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Course outline – first draft

17/11/2012 in About this course, course design, progress report

The ocTEL project team have now had a chance to discuss and digest the results of our survey, and to think about what implications they might have for the course design.

The results are most useful in terms of what they tell us about objectives and topics that people would like the course to cover, and which we hadn’t included in the description we gave in the questionnaire. These included areas like pedagogic theory, how to evaluate and measure the impact of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), the wider context of digital literacy, specific technology platforms like mobile, how to deal with technology failures, and so on. We’ve endeavoured to add as many of these into the mix as we can.

The topic areas that came out as most important are what you might call the ‘practical coalface’ aspects of TEL:

  • designing learning materials
  • tutoring students online
  • students perspectives
  • designing and managing online activities, and social interactions

Less popular are the dry-but-worthy topics like openness and standards. However, since these are important and, well, worthy of inclusion, we don’t want to drop them. Instead we tried to think of how we could weave them into the course in such a way that their value is made clear. This led into a more general discussion on a topic that bedevils learning technologists: do you organise round the learning and show how the technology serves those goals, or do you respect the interests of those who are concerned with particular technologies or means of delivery. We want to demonstrate, not just assert, the interdependence and interaction between learning and technology.

So the solution we’re going with for now is a organised round practical challenges and problems that teachers and learning technologists face. We hope this will ensure that the technology and learning strands are bound together, as well as enabling the course to cover underpinning issues like openness and standards in a relevant context. You can see a ‘live’ working version of our course outline in this Google spreadsheet. In summary, the outline at the time of writing looks like this.

  1. The Future and Technology Enhanced Learning — induction and finding your feet — 1 week — Challenge perceptions about TEL, and opportunity to check familiarity with basic tools and services
  2. Designing the learning experience — 20 hours over 4 weeks
    1. Work out what your course or learning opportunity is going to feel like — Historical context of TEL and range of TEL approaches, brief overview and orientation of issues on the rest of the course and how they contribute to the learning experience, comparison of approaches (e.g. different kinds of MOOC, classroom-based TEL, simulations, discursive & constructivist etc)
    2. Be clear about how learning is going to take place — Design and organisation of group activities, social media in learning, games in learning, pedagogical theory
    3. Produce engaging and effective learning materials — Design of curriculum and course materials, pedagogical theory, authoring tools and environments, producing OERs, copyright and licensing
    4. Choose the right platforms and technologies to support activities and communication — Mobile platforms, VLEs, open platforms & integration, cloud services, accessibility
  3. Supporting learners — 15 hours over 3 weeks
    1. Understand learners’ needs — Learners’ perspectives, supporting learner transitions, accessibility and access needs, prerequisites for course, familiarity with technology and digital literacy issues
    2. Provide timely, effective assessment and feedback — e-assessment, formative and summative assessment, feedback, peer evaluations, e-portfolios
    3. Support learners with tutor and peer communications — online tutoring and facilitation skills, peer support and networking, Personal Learning Networks and CPD
  4. Managing the process — 15 hours over 3 weeks
    1. Get maximum learning for minimum cost — Openness (especially Open Educational Resoruces) and standards, technologies and techniques for achieving economies of scale (VLEs, MOOCs etc), using free Web 2.0 tools and platforms
    2. Keep your project or course on track by anticipating or overcoming problems — Implementation, risk analysis, troubleshooting, dealing with technology that doesn’t work
    3. Work out what difference you’re making — Evaluation, research evidence and measuring impact of TEL

In case it’s not apparent, I should stress that none of this is fixed: we’re publishing it now to expose the outline to the widest criticism while it is still not too costly to change it. Please don’t be shy about saying if you think we’ve got this wrong.

If you’d like to track changes to the course outline, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re aware of some remaining issues. For example, how to allow learners the maximum flexibility to focus on some areas of the course in greater depth than others, within what may be a linear timetable.

We’re also aware that our market research is not the last word or the whole story. Our questionnaire was (deliberately) short and may have been superficial in part as a consequence. Though we circulated it beyond the standard Association for Learning Technology channels, the balance of the responses seemed to suggest that the respondents were more likely to be learning technologists (and less likely to be teachers) and more TEL-savvy (in that 22% had already done a MOOC) than our target audience for the course.

So we are always interested in more feedback.


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