It is so important for lecturers, designers and developers of online courses to be involved and be a student in a blended course. It is easy to sit in an office, well easy is not the right word really, it can be difficult work to get done well, but people who design and create these courses who haven’t actually completed one lately lose sight of the student’s experience.
The Blended learning course needs to be experienced to appreciate the design considerations and traps that students get caught in. The clear layout, design, common sense and logical flow of the course allows a student to seamlessly complete the course with a minimum of confusion while getting the most out of their experience.
Taking a free course like the BlendKit 2016 accomplishes two things, at least two. The experience provides an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of the student, see the good, bad, confusing, the hurdles and experience the barriers that some course contain. After beginning a course and passing through the initial lack of knowledge phase of how the course operates, navigates and flows, your mind is focused on successful completion of tasks and assignments. Knowing what is required to successfully complete your course, task or assignment is critical to the student’s experience and after all that is really all they want to do.
Past experience as a students has shown me that it is great to have a beautiful course with bold images and graphics, all the bells and whistles on it however after the initial selling point of a beautiful course has passed finishing the course is all the student is looking at.
What do I have to do to get the course finished, pass and move on.
Having said all that there is something about achieving a Badge that still appeals to a student isn’t there?
Interactions Face to face, online, student to student, peer assessment, forums, group chats and live and asynchronous sessions online these hold the key to a successful engaging course.
A course I participated in many years ago delivered this interaction on a grand scale. The facilitator posted an image to a forum in the first activity in an online course, but it could easily have been face to face.
The Image a present day Qantas Commercial plane in a cabinet at the airport with other Qantas planes from the past.
The Post What do you see in this image?
The Result 200+ posts from the 15 students in the course.
The image was the key to the interaction. A simple image, well not really. Simple subject in the image, but the question and image had been seriously considered before selection.
The first Post “A Qantas plane…” Some of the last posts involved future space travel using Qantas planes to fly around the world in hours in more fuel efficient sustainable planes, while preserving the planet. Not a bad interaction form a simple question with all students engaged.
The Facilitator only made two comments during two days of posting at the beginning of this course to say that he hadn’t thought of that.
This is discovery and learning in action during and interaction. The exchange of ideas encouraged by other student’s posts expanded the discussion in almost every direction. Everyone learnt something from this experience because of the diverse backgrounds and experience levels of the students.
Minimal cost, minimal facilitator input, maximum discovery, student lead, seconds to set up and the resulting discussion unleashed and amazing amount of knowledge and sharing thought while engaging all students in the process. It also formed a part of their formative assessment.
That is the power of an effective interaction. They need to be very carefully thought through but are very effective in adding engagement to a course and learning experience. That is the aim the student focus.
My Subject course
The course I have been looking at on this course is BSBITU101 Use a personal computer and interesting choice for several reasons.
- How do you deliver a course online to someone who doesn’t know how to use one?
- Most of the resources are online and require an email account
- The course is aimed at students who may not have access to a computer
There are other considerations and we have completed this training in a Blended way in the past as it can only be done using Face to Face hands and involves Online content.
I look forward to setting out the Blended Learning Plan and really examining it to see how well the existing course stacks up with the revisited course blueprint. Seeing whether and how much the course can be improved for the student experience and deliver the outcomes intended in a consistent reliable cost effective way.