Monday, August 30, 2010

'Evaluate this' exercise - Online Information Literacy modules

Module 3: Business Report -

The use of the module in my work situation
A module covering this content could be of great use in Alex’s organisation as effective business writing is a key competency for many employees. In saying that, many of are beyond first year polytechnic levelso the language and approach would need to be refined in order to better appeal to our employees. Lisa’s situation is very different, she has never had to write a business report, so this module was a complete learning curve, however she agrees with Alex in saying that the language and approach would need to be refined for a beginner as well, as it was very wordy and not always easy to follow.

The look and feel and is it 'fit for purpose'?
The first screen gave a great impression of polished module that would be interactive and informative. Navigation is simple with the use of back and next arrows. Alex found the size of the module onscreen slightly off-putting as she has a widescreen monitor and the actual frame of the module was quite small. Lisa found the font simple and easily read which is good because there is so much content to cover. She felt the module could benefit from including more interactive tools or activities.

Alex liked the overview map and the road sign theme used, however expected to be able to jump to parts of the module from it but wasn’t able to. She would have preferred a different approach to the instructions overview and timing as it felt like forever getting through them.
Using the green arrows along the bottom of the screen enables the user to move through the pages but also go back to a section if needed. The left hand menu allows you to navigate around the module as you wish, however, Lisa felt providing sub-headings (on the road signs) would be a better approach. Both of us believe it is important learners have options to work with and aren’t locked down by pathways through a module.

Alex didn’t like the terminology ‘Look at the topic’ – she felt it didn’t really feel like the right title and it was confusing as it went on to an example topic, so wasn’t sure if this was part of the module or not. The user had to go all the way back to the overview to remind them what they were doing. The actual performance of the module was quite slow and a couple of clicks were required to get anything to happen. Lisa felt there was an overload of information for this part of the module, often having to click back through screens several times to remember information she had already read and to clarify understanding.

Overall Alex was not entirely convinced that this is an ideal method for teaching or learning about business report writing. She believes there are definitely basics that can be covered, but there was so much reading and so little activity that learners can become overwhelmed and slightly bored. Lisa agrees there is far too much reading in the module which is discouraging. With the inclusion of activities Lisa believe learners would retain higher levels of engagement and interest from the user. With this kind of content a blended approach may be a better option with learners providing samples of their writing for maybe peer review and discussion with the module focused on covering just the bare basics. It may work well for the audience that it’s currently pitched to, but it would definitely be too long and involved for many learners.

What sort of changes would you make if customising the module?
As discussed Alex would shorten and provide some kind of fast track for advanced learners. If learners can prove they have the skills then why not just work at honing them. Lisa felt the content wass also a little basic, so would complete a needs analysis/scoping exercise prior to redevelopment, and that a first time user could also benefit from a needs analysis, seeing what they do and don’t know.

Alex would build the menu on the module itself – which is here personal preference as she didn’t really notice the menu off to the side until late in the module and was frustrated by tying to navigate between sections. Lisa found the menu first off but felt it was not highlighted and so could be easily missed, and agrees that it could be included in the module itself.
Alex fundamentally disagrees with any one should ever try and complete an hour of online learning in one sitting – it’s not realistic or valuable learning. She would break the module up into possibly three twenty minute or four fifteen minute bytes. Learners would have a much better experience and be able to retain more from short bursts of learning spread out at their discretion. From Lisa’s experience,she agrees that teaching and learning in short bursts equals success.

Other comments
Alex feels she may be a quite an intense evaluator of online modules as she has built many and is extremely passionate about their design and content structure. The Business Report module had a lot of really great content and obviously a lot of time and effort went into it but generally she feels with online modules less is more. Lisa agrees, less is more, and as a first time user and newly learning how to evaluate online modules, she found the content informative but much too much to take retain in one sitting, especially within the timeframe given (one hour). Breaking up the module into shorter bytes is much more realistic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taster Exercise

Cisco Networking Case Study
Alex and I have put our thoughts together in reponse to the 'taster' exercise and our findings are below.

What are the key issues?
1. There doesn’t to appear to be an equal blend of online and face to face instruction. It is very heavily computer based training with limited face to face input or feedback from a facilitator. ‘Lectures’ infer this is a large group activity – where is the opportunity for the student to connect directly with the facilitator?

2. Access to computer labs is limited to empty rooms; the assessment structure involving on-campus tests and examinations may not suit the availability of all students.

3. Feedback computer based rather than from a facilitator, providing feedback could provide an opportunity for the facilitator to work directly with their students.

How can the problem be solved? What strategies can be used?
There doesn’t seem to be any mention of a class discussion board or common workspace. Both of us feel that the best way to communicate with other students and the facilitator is through a discussion forum, allowing students to clarify understanding, discuss ideas and for the facilitator to check progress. In a course with a large group of students, discussion forums and encouraging peer-support are great tools to motivate learners.
We also feel there is potential for activities and assessment tasks be restructured into group activities where the facilitator could have more ‘face-time’ with the learners.

How can the evaluation process assist in finding a solution? What type of evaluation is appropriate in this situation?
Evaluation can assist by actually finding out what would work for the learners in this situation. What do they like about how the course is structured? What do they find difficult about it? How might they change it themselves? What tools do they find really useful?

A feedback form or online survey where learners are encouraged to share their ideas in words, rather than by rating scales or multiple choice questions, would be appropriate. Lisa suggested Survey Monkey as a great tool for teachers that enable users to create their own web-based surveys (some cost is involved for institutions). Another valuable tool maybe for the facilitator to reflect on the programme they delivered in a structured manner. A pre and post evaluation of what they felt would be successful vs. what was successful might be quite revealing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Into to course

I teach a great bunch of Intermediate students in south auckland and love it. I have been teaching for the past 8 years and in this time have taught years 2-8. I have completed one elearning paper (Educational design for elearning) and would definitely reccommend this for newbies like myself!!

Our school staff is currently learning how to use elearning tools in the classroom to ensure elearning is an integral part of everyday learning and teaching practices.

Regarding, the project, I would like to setup a blog site for students to post comments (from Mon-Wed) about their daily Technology lessons. These posts will include learning intentions, success criteria, images or sounds. I would like to see whether this is a user friendly way for students to reflect or respond to what they have learned and for teachers to maintain as a online working document. I hope to inspire teachers at my school to do the same!