What is e-learning? A technology? A philosophy or doctrine? A community of experts? A different kind of teaching? Something we are imposing on students? Something entirely new? e-Learning is using new technology to provide exciting, flexible, more effective learning experiences that relate to the real lives of students today.
What is blended learning? Blended learning is using e-learning to complement conventional on-campus teaching and learning, within a single course, so as to create a more effective learning experience.
Advantages of online course elements (1) Students can work in their own time, in their own space and at their own pace All materials remain online, so students can refer, re-read, redo as necessary Well-designed material can work with a wider variety of learning styles than most conventional teaching can Elements may be reusable in other courses or other parts of the same course Links to online resources (websites, databases, libraries, KCL e-journals) are direct and easy to create Collaboration is easy to set up and easy for students to use
Advantages of online course elements (2) Some exciting learning tools (eg blogs, wikis) only exist online Well-designed materials can make use of technologies already familiar to students (eg podcasts, Skype, blogs, social networking, bookmarking tools) Some types of assessment are easier online (eg peer assessment) Off-campus learning experiences (eg interaction with real- world practitioners) can be incorporated Students can submit work in various online formats Some students find participation in discussions, activities etc easier online than face-to-face
Disadvantages of online course elements May require more time, effort and money to create Authors may need to learn new styles, skills Technical problems may hinder content creation and/or use Online assessment requires particular care (plagiarism, impersonation etc)
Elements of your course Which elements must stay face-to-face? Which elements work less well (eg waste time) face-to-face? Are there any administrative matters that might save you time and effort online (eg virtual office hours) What new learning materials might be offered online (eg animations and other visual material)? What cant you do face-to-face that might be a good learning experience online for your students (eg anonymised real case studies, live access to experts, collaborative research)
Online content recommendation 1: Think Outside the Box Dont use WebCT Vista as a guide to whats possible in e- learning. e-Learning is much more than authored copy with a few token quizzes. Plan a good learning experience first, then work out how to create it. You dont have to use Vistas tools.
Some strategies for blended courses (1) Divide course by element, eg: F2f tutorials, assessment online content (authored and student research) F2f content (eg lectures), tutorials online assessment (eg case study report, collaborative or individual) F2f content online formative assessment and discussion (eg student posts presentation for discussion) plus summative assessment (student submits revised presentation) F2f content, discussion online major assessed project running concurrently Or:
Divide course by timetable, eg: Week 1 f2f lecture, tutorials etc Week 2 online research, collaboration etc Week 3 f2f lecture, tutorials etc Week 4 online group activity (eg role play with reflection etc) Or: Term 1 f2f conventional teaching Term 2 online practical activity and report (eg shadowing real-world practitioner) Some strategies for blended courses (2) Or, use VLE for extension materials/ added value only (eg recorded guest lectures, podcasts, tutor blogs etc)
Think about look and feel e-Learning materials are mostly webpages, not monographs or textbook chapters Students today have grown up with the web: they expect visually interesting material … but 90% of current e-learning –looks like 1990s web design –has little or no editorial oversight (bloated text, poor punctuation, spelling and grammatical mistakes, inconsistency) –has poor usability (broken links, poor navigation, confusing structure, poor accessibility) Universities, departments, even individual courses need a consistent look: this is about usability, authority and integrity and it makes creating content easier for you
Some look-and-feel solutions Use a consistent design with appropriate visual branding Use templates, not ad hoc pages Learn how to write web copy Follow basic usability guidelines Make your online material visually interesting as well as pedagogically sound Find ways of using images, video, new technologies as far as your budget allows Get some input from a designer/editor/web developer
Online content recommendation 2: Dont use the VLEs tools Dont upload ad hoc collections of Word docs, pdfs etc: this produces content thats hard to use, disorganised, inconsistent and locked into the VLE Dont use the VLEs HTML Creator: its hard to use and very limited (if youre comfortable with web design, use a proper tool like Dreamweaver)
Online content recommendation 3: Dont use CourseGenie CourseGenie is KCLs recommended content creation tool It claims to produce HTML pages from Word documents But: Its hopelessly limited and inflexible for visual design It produces very dated, simplistic web pages It produces very poor quality HTML
A content creation solution Get a web developer to set up Dreamweaver templates for your course, as simple or as complex as you want, in XHTML with CSS Use a web authoring/updating tool like Contribute to add content to your templates Create your HTML content remotely, review and check it, then upload it to the VLE Use the VLEs tools only to create organiser pages and in- platform elements like discussions Ask the WiMW team about our content-creation system