Thanks @egq22rd (Richard) for some fascinating thoughts on online learning, many that do chime with my own.
Like you I feel that objectives are something that’s become largely mechanical in courses (whether face to face or online) , I find myself – as I suspect many others do – writing them retrospectively once you’ve created the materials and then head-scratching over which damn verb to use to make sure you don’t dare use a word like ‘understand’ or ‘comprehend’ because it’s not observable. I’m not sure all learning is visible, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable sometimes to use phrases like ‘raise awareness’ in objectives when you are introducing a concept and giving students time to get their heads round it.
Like you I prefer a summary/narrative, and it’s something we try to do both at the start of the units and at the beginning of each topic. Neither of these are really ‘objectives’ in a traditional sense of the word, more a kind of ‘hey, this is what you’re going to be doing here’. Learning is a really messy business and trying to constrain it down to one or two outcomes can be counter-productive at times. However, It can be useful when talking about the course as a whole and trying to help people understand what some of the takeaways from it might be.
Also agree about graphics and like you, I found that Engagement Matrix particularly difficult to grasp, it feels like an unnecessarily complicated Venn Diagram. But a great example where use of media must be relevant or where you need to offer an alternative (table/text) to accommodate different ways of processing information. Just sticking in a table/diagram/picture because well, that’s what we’re supposed to do, is as unhelpful as just using banks of text.
You make an interesting point about chat, and the ability to comment on a specific thing in a course or text can be really helpful. I think that’s why tools like Google Docs have become so popular, they help create a living, organic document that can be commented and changed in real time. There is a danger with letting chat become a dominant option though as it seems to demand an immediate response, which can be quite exhausting for the tutors and also may lead to hasty decision making (’oh my god, they didn’t like that activity, I’d better change it’).