Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Improving e-learning

As part of my 'homework' for the FOC2010 course, I watched a presentation by Stephen Downes entitled Web 2.0 and Your Own Learning and Development. In it, he talks about 'guerilla tactics' for e-learning. I have read and listened to Stephen on a number of occasions and he never disappoints. This particular video lecture was especially interesting to me because we are grappling at the moment with ways in which to help students become better e-learners, and Stephen works through this so methodically and thoughtfully. Some of the points he makes are:
  • The importance of interaction and participation in a community. I have realised this myself in my engagement (or lack thereof) with the FOC sessions. Having human contact makes it so much easier to stay engaged and current. Watching recordings of the ellluminate sessions isn't nearly as satisfying as participating. I will be working on helping lecturers to find ways to maintain the human element when their students are engaged in working online.
  • Usability and simplicity. I got this wrong when I first started working on Moodle, and my Moodle pages were long and needed lots of scrolling. I've definitely improved in this respect, and the students have responded well to my new design. However, I still have some way to go. I design interactive learning objects using, primarily, Adobe Captivate. This produces a great finished product, BUT, we have had no end of trouble with students being unable to access them because of browser updates or uninstalled flash players. I think perhaps that I have become so caught up in the intellectual exercise of producing 'clever' learning objects that I have forgotten that most basic rule that 'form follows function'. I will definitely be revisiting this based on what I have learned about online learning.
  • Relevance. I'd like to think that all the learning we require of our students is 'relevant' to their desire to become nurses, but I have to wonder if we convey the relevance clearly and accurately enough. Would they engage more with the independent learning if we were better at convincing them of the relevance of it to their success? (Beyond the, 'it's in the exam approach'!)
I have embedded the presentation below as an aide-memoire to myself - I need to watch it regularly to help me stay focussed. It's 20min, but well worth the time.


  1. What web 2.0 did for learners is the ability to socialize while learning. Web 2.0 tools create a healthy environment where like-minded learners interact and form communities necessary for successful retention. These corporate learning solutions would certainly benefit in incorporating these innovative concepts in their programs.

  2. Awesome video find. It brings together so much about what I'm thinking about personal learning networks. I think it a far better learning stimulus than what has been included in this week reading/viewing in FO2010. Well done and thanks for sharing your ideas and this video. Thanks Thanks Thanks.