R2D2 - Empowering Online Learning: July 21 - August 3, 2008

Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

by Christine Horgan -
Number of replies: 4


I have asked our library to purchase the textbook as it looks as though it will have value to others in my organization, which means I may not have access to the textbook until long after this conference ends.

So, I'll wade in with a question. Curt & Ke, if my question is taking the conference in an unplanned direction, you have my permission to rein me in.

I'm looking at Curt and Ke's colourful diagram (circular model of R2D2) and realize it and the Learning Cycle (motivate, comprehend, practice, and apply) may hold the key to the question(s) I'm struggling to articulate this morning (but I have yet to have my morning cup of coffee).

Not very articulate, but here goes:

- can anyone pass along any wisdom around how we encourage Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to stretch beyond the cookie-cutter model for on-line course design/development that seems to have become an accepted standard?

- are there a couple of small, manageable, tried-and-true activities (beyond threaded discussions, read-and-report-back, animated objects/examples, etc.) that can add value to the course for learner and facilitator?

Thanks, Chris Horgan

In reply to Christine Horgan

Re: Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

by Jim Julius -
I'm afraid I don't yet have the book either, but I thought I'd offer a response here.

At San Diego State we're actually quite late to the online course model and most of the faculty involved in designing/delivering online courses have started with hybrid models.

This has led our faculty to use synchronous tools much more than (what I think you mean by) the "cookie-cutter" model would suggest. We have Wimba Classroom (similar to Elluminate or Adobe Connect) which allows a rich synchronous environment for interactive presentations, office hours, individual consultations and small group work sessions, student-led presentations, guest presentations, etc.

Given the archiving capabilities of these tools, it is possible to offer these learning opportunities to those who can make it, and then make the session available for viewing by those whose schedule wouldn't allow live attendance. We find that the live attendees also highly value the use of the archive for review. Our faculty also believe these archives are richer, given their interactive nature, than a canned lecture would be.

In our initial feedback from students, most of whom are not enrolled in fully online programs, but rather are students who are taking a few online classes as part of a more traditional degree program, the synchronous tools/activities are rated extremely high by student in importance to their learning, and their importance is generally higher than asynchronous tools/materials/activities.
In reply to Jim Julius

Re: Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

by Christine Horgan -

Thanks, Jim:

I never cease to be amazed at how far my institution and its instructors have come in some 10 years. Many (probably most) of our courses are supported by some sort of on-line materials (blended). There's still learning happening around how we best make use of on-line resources in a F2F classroom. We now have a large number of fully online coursee (asynchronous delivery).

Many instructors are subject matter experts/instructors first and computer geeks a distant second, so we are very fortunate that we have  fabulous support in our teaching/learning centre--it makes blended/distance teaching "do-able" for many.

As a Curriculum Co-ordinator (and former teacher) I wear many hats from coach to project manager to co-developer and many things in between. Like many of my colleagues, I'm an "expert" in my area but I'm not a computer expert. I figure I need to know options and have others help me create those options.

With the preamble done, let me try and capture what I'm struggling with.

We use WebCT: there are pros and cons...it's what we use. Our courses are already quite rich, but I often question if we are addressing the "WIIFM" (what's in it for me?) for our students--in other words what will they get out of a blended or distance course that they won't get in a traditional F2F course?

 The "cookie cutter" aspect of course design/development is that we now have standard features in our courses (which is important) but I think there's an opportunity to be lulled into thinking "that's it."

Our courses  have 

  • standard resources (tutorials on netiquette, course outline, instructor contact information, general "housekeeping" content, for example) and links to common resources (library, tutorials, learning support);
  • we have examples (often annotated--mouse over and/or voice over);
  • we have links to eBooks in our institution's ebrary;
  • we use threaded discussions; we use whiteboard lessons with voice over and videos;
  • when we are given permission to use third-party materials (tutorials, videos, examples, etc), we incorporate them;
  • we use on-line quizzes/exams;
  • we use some on-line "lesson" material (not a lot) supported by textbooks.
  • In some areas of our institution, we have tech-savvy instructors using iPods--but this resource is very much in its infancy for us, and so I can't address the quality of the "lessons."

What I'd like to know is what else could I recommend to my SMEs?--what other "things" that are  simple and easy and will excite a non-tech-savvy SME? Something that makes sense, something they'll recognize as being an e-form of their F2F delivery, something that isn't overwhelming (and this last piece is really important).

Jim, I'd really like to know more about your archiving system and Wimba.

Thanks, Chris

In reply to Jim Julius

Re: Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

by Karen Baker -

I am Karen Parrish Baker. I teach adult and higher education leadership masters degree program at Morehead State University (KY) in the U.S.A.  I have taught online using Bb for three years both as hybrid and totally online courses.  I have been pretty much a lurker with an occasional posting on SCoPE for two years.

I am reacting to Jim at SDSU's posting. I found it difficult to use the synchronous tools/activities because one of the reasons students take these courses is because of incompatible schedules which make it a challenge to find a common time for 20-25 graduate students to meet online.  For those of you who have had success with this, I would appreciate any strategies and suggestions that would be helpful and strategic in utilizing these tools to maximize learning.

In reply to Christine Horgan

Re: Encouraging SMEs to explore options in online courses

by Curt Bonk -
Hi Christine.  I am in Denver at the moment--exhausted having given 6 talks in 2 days and 2 last friday in Houston.  I am happy to report that the Univ of Houston taped last week's talks with many such activities and it will soon be available in itunes and YouTube.  I hope to share it in a couple of days.  (Ke is working on her tenure and promotion file so she may not be posting this week and I am out of town--sorry for any delays in responding).