/hu/file/jumping-bandwagonpart-2-michael-stewartjpgJumping on the bandwagon.Part 2. Michael Stewart.jpg
Following on from last week's article, this is the concluding part of my summary of what the Interactive Design Institute has learned about eLearning over the past 13 years and a few suggestions as to what you might consider when opting for online provision.
Be clear in all briefs, assessments, feedback and feed forward
In the face-to-face learning environment of the lecture theatre or classroom, the education provider has the opportunity to offer an infinite number of qualifications, exemplars and explanations when describing what is required for the successful completion of an assessment task. The online equivalent involves clear, concise statements which inform the student and outline the process and requirements thoroughly. Does this “one stop shop” – an assessment presented as a brief – disadvantage the online student? No. What it does is encourage the assessor to think carefully about what they require from the student and present them with a vehicle designed to elicit an appropriate response; an efficient, practical task presented as an instrument for assessment. The added bonus being that, upon entry to the workplace, the student is likely to be confronted by the very same model.
Students need advice, guidance and support no matter which delivery system is employed. A comprehensive critique of all submitted work is crucial to the learning experience, as are meaningful suggestions as to how the student might develop their work, consider their approach and move forward with their studies. In our model, the learning materials are designed to perform the actual teaching, leaving qualified tutors to offer subject specific critique.
Guarantee high levels of student support, both academic and pastoral
It is a common misconception that the online learner is destined to work in splendid isolation. This is simply not true – online education requires the provider to offer more, not less, support to the student. It is essential that the online learner receives as much interaction with their tutors as they feel they need. However, this support should not be limited to feedback and feed forward. There is a strong case which suggests that online students respond positively to an ongoing dialogue throughout their studies with their tutor and their fellow students. Discussions around the requirements of a particular task, shared experiences of areas of difficulty, and offering work, thoughts and ideas up for comment provide the opportunity for an added level of engagement. Similarly, where students experience problems that are unrelated to their academic work, it is important that the provider offers pastoral support as required. Consequently, secure access to personal message boxes, monitored forums and the tracking of student activity for the purpose of gauging “attendance” are all vital support activities.
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” Aldous Huxley
Forget high-tech: offer robust, intuitive web-based provision
Yes, you can include multimedia materials, high definition resources and a plethora of interesting applications, but are they delivering your core product in the most efficient way? Keep it simple but engaging. You are dealing with highly motivated, intelligent learners who will not be easily impressed by unnecessarily complicated, high-tech gadgetry. Nor should your online delivery favour those students who are fortunate enough to have access to top-of-the-range IT equipment. The online model we aspire to is one that is readily available to all students regardless of their economic, technological or geographical situation.
You can access the complete article by clicking on this link.
Missed Part One? Access the article by clicking the link here.
Michael Stewart has extensive experience in the writing, directing and delivery of education programmes across a range of media. More recently as a member of the board and management team of the Interactive Design Institute, Michael has fulfilled a wide variety of functions including the development of pedagogy for online delivery.