A. Discussing in class the Spark “On-line courses must die” (http://www.scoop.it/t/learningdigitally/p/4019165666/2014/04/08/online-courses-must-die)
Online courses must die!
A touch dramatic, isn’t it?
Now that I have your attention, please bear with me.
There’s method in my madness…
The myth of rapid authoring
The proliferation of so-called rapid authoring tools over the last few years has coincided with an explosion in the number of online courses developed in-house.
In the bad old days, technically challenged L&D professionals had to pay exorbitant fees to development houses to produce simple modules. These days, however, everyone seems to be creating their own online courses and distributing them via an LMS.
In tandem with this trend, though, has been the increasingly familiar cry of “It’s not interactive!”. Critics rail against boring page turners – and rightly so.
But you know what? Even when L&D professionals consciously integrate interactivity into their online courseware, I usually don’t think it’s all that engaging anyway. Increasing the number of clicks required to view the content does not make it more interactive. It just makes it annoying, especially for time-poor employees in the corporate sector.
Yes, I know you can embed real interactivity into courseware via games, branched simulations, virtual worlds etc, but hardly anyone does that. It requires time – which you don’t have because you’re too busy building the online course – or dollars – which defeats the purpose of developing it in-house!
So what’s the alternative?
Frankly, there’s nothing most online courses do that a PDF can’t. Think about it: PDFs display structured text and pretty pictures. Just like a typical online course, without the fancy software or specialist skills.
Anyone (and I mean just about anyone) can create and update a PDF. Suddenly SMEs are back in the game…
Write up a Word doc and convert it? Easy.
Update the Word doc and re-convert it? Easy.
Now that’s what I call rapid.
The best of both worlds
If we dispense with online courses in favour of PDFs, how can we incorporate interactivity into the learning experience?
Enter the Informal Learning Environment (ILE).
Occupying a place on the continuum somewhere between a VLE and a PLE, an ILE is an informal learning environment that a facilitator manages on behalf of a group of learners.
Essentially, an ILE is a space (like a website or intranet site) that centralises relevant learning resources in a particular domain. The site may host some of those resources and point to others that exist elsewhere.
So your PDFs can go in there, but so too can your audio clips, videos, puzzles, games, quizzes and simulations. Don’t forget podcasts, RSS feeds, slideshows, infographics, animations, articles and real-life case studies. Not to mention blogs, wikis, discussion forums and social bookmarks.
Unlike a VLE, an ILE is strictly informal. The learners can explore its resources at their own pace and at their own discretion. No forced navigation, no completion status. In this sense, the pedagogy is constructivist.
Unlike a PLE, an ILE is communal. It exists to support a community of practice, whose members can (or more accurately, should) incorporate it into their own respective PLEs. In this sense, the pedagogy is connectivist.
But that’s not to say that the pedagogy of an ILE can’t be instructivist either. The facilitator should provide a learning plan for novice learners which defines a sequence of study, identifying specific resources among the potentially overwhelming array of options.
Why does the author state that modern on-line courses are the same as PDF documents?
What is the difference between a VLE and an ILE? Is this difference crucial in your opinion?
What elements according to the author can bring interactivity in an on-line course? Do you agree? Explain the mechanism of interactivity for each of these elements.
What other elements of a VLE can be used to enhance the interactivity of the course? (Guide the discussion towards the forums and chats as the ways to interact).
What activities should and what shouldn’t be put on-line in your opinion? Why?
Phase 2. Specific features of designing a lesson in Moodle.
A. Using Moodle elements to enhance interactivity
Read these articles. Discuss on a Moodle Intranet forum what types of tasks can be done via forums in the process of language teaching (writing, reading, listening, speaking, project work)?