The first activity for this week is to reflect and think about how activities can be adapted to incorporate new approaches.
The matrix below outlines various quadrants that all activities fall in to:
I am approaching this activity from the perspective of a learner who recently undertook an online eLearning course. The course was about a concept that I knew very little about (Sales) as I work in IT. The course was well structured and I was allowed to progress through the course at my own pace.
The course had several online assignments and they were all designed to lie within the individual/autonomous quadrant. I was expected to work though the learning material first and then complete the assignments in my own time. There were assigned deadlines for the assignments but the course admins were quite flexible with these.
Though I found the course enjoyable and eventually passed the course to achieve a qualification, I felt quite isolated and alone most of the time. I had exchanged emails with the course tutor and I was told that I could email him whenever I needed help. But, since I had very little interaction with the tutor (other than a few emails) and because I was confident that I could work through the material in my own time, I never built up any rapport with the tutor. I only needed the tutor’s help a few times in the end.
There were certainly no interaction between me and the other people on the course. There simply wasn’t a forum or any such mechanism available to interact with others on the course. This meant that I couldn’t get any sense of other people’s experiences or find out about how others planned to apply the knowledge they had gained from the course.
Changing the course to make it more compatible with the social/autonomous quadrant of the matrix would be hugely beneficial in my opinion. Allowing social interaction will motivate learners and will provide them with incentives to engage more with the course. This will enhance the overall learning experience and allow people to develop/build new friendships and relationships. Group work could have also made some of the assignments more interesting (as some of the tasks were a bit boring).
However, there could be a potential downside – social interaction (either through forums/chat rooms or even face to face contact) requires time. That would mean me spending more time (that I originally did on the course) if there had been a social element to the course. Group work only works when all the members of the group equally engage with the rest of the group and contribute. Having personally experienced situations in the past with members “not pulling their weight”, I am not entirely convinced that group work is a good idea in every situation. However, in this situation I am convinced that group work and social interaction would have only served to enhance the course.
The autonomous element of the course was quite good in my opinion. But, things could have been better and a social element would have been an asset to the course.