Reflection on 4151 …. afterwards

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

This is the first of the postings which I promised to write at the end of the last course:  EDUC4151, Design and Develop Interactive  eLearning. That course , the follow-on to 4150 (and before that PIDP) was a result of what I consider to be a somewhat crazy decision to carry on the educational  process which started with the PID program. This has meant no time for anything but course work to the disgruntlement of my wife who feels this is time less than well spent… it’s not that she is unsupportive but rather that she feels there might be other uses for the time.   But,  like most things ill-considered I am forced to admit that in retrospect the choice was a good one and not inappropriate for me.

I have found that the process of education, of learning, is definitely a love/hate relationship: I love the learning but hate the stress that getting the work done produces. There has been improvement in my learning and ability to think and write… maybe that masters program should be on my list????

So what does this mean and what have I learned over the two courses?.

  1. From a course development/ student standpoint, barriers to learning must be removed completely or reduced to minor inconveniences wherever possible.
  2. Generational differences, especially in relation to diverse populations of students with a wide age range and educational backgrounds must be appropriately considered and any issues which arise  addressed immediately.
  3. Learning styles must be taken into account through the development phase and before decisions are made regarding when (or which) behaviourist, cognitivist, constructivist or connectivist  strategies put in place.
  4. The use of ePortfolios as another assessment/learning resource must be taken into consideration wherever possible.
  5. The use and importance of message boards and posting forums should never be estimated as both an intuitive educational tool between students and an assessment instrument for during-the-course work.
  6. Quality guidelines should be considered and constantly consulted through the design, development and presentation phases of any online course.
  7. One must always take the diversity of our set of learners into consideration when designing course content. Age, education, culture, gender must all be taken into account and a level playing field must be guaranteed for all participants.
  8. A spirit of community must be fostered and encouraged as the online environment allows better outcomes for students when this spirit is promoted.
  9. My understanding of the inclusive process: community,  involvement, and engagement which is the online environment has increased and with it the development of a finer awareness of what I will expect from myself as an instructor and my students as participants.

Some other questions to ponder which Joanne has raised are:

  • How will barriers be removed, how will I ensure this process is open-ended?
  • What will I do to remain open minded to the process itself?
  • How might I support independent learners?
  • How can I balance different learning styles and get the most for (and from) my learners in the context of community and group learning?
  • Should a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for community be articulated from the beginning of any course material and how will I accomplish this?
  • Are course expectations going to change as a function of course complexity and content or as different learner qualifications emerge?
  • Will there be multiple attempts at tests allowed or is there a one time only qualification?
  • Will feedback be provided to learners regarding incorrect answers? … A very important point and worth thinking about some more.
  • SECTIONS as an analytic tool is another ‘diagnostic’ for upcoming course materials and a great way to forecast trends and get a good handle on learner backgrounds: education, culture etc.

There is obviously a tremendous amount more to learn as yet and so little available time in which to do so. The future holds as yet untold secrets but I will learn more by looking back and reflecting on what has happened and making decisions which will affect my  future endeavours.