In these last 4-5 weeks of this Distance Learning course to so many new concepts and components that go in to distance education. As a distance learner it is important that one has many different tools and resources available to assist during their educational journey. Technology has afforded learners access to many different resources. One of the most recent trends in E- Learning tools is Open Course websites or MOOCs. MOOCs or open courses allow for learners to log into different courses, from different instructors and universities world wide. This can be free to the learner or offer certificates of completion. While these courses will not offer the learner credits, they provide valuable knowledge. In some cases these course can help learners prepare for upcoming classes they will be receiving credit from.
There is a lot to consider when planning a course. With every concept and component targeted towards the leaner. Not all courses created ( especially in distance learning ) are designed effectively for the learner to utilize. With more and more courses being made available, one has to carefully examine what is being offered, did the creator keep the learner in mind when planning and designing. I checked out Openculture.com from this weeks resources, this actually is my first experience with MOOCs, I only recently heard about them in this course. So this id definitely something new for me. Our text in chapter for points out that “ The key to success in an online class room is not which technologies are used, but but how they are used and what information is communicated using the technologies (Simonson et al., 2012). There are many open course websites, which is one of the first things I notice when I typed it in Google, to eliminate confusion for me I chose Open Culture, since it was offered in our resources. I browsed through several different courses being offered. One of the first thing I noticed was each course had a short introduction for learners to know what would be explored. This helps the learner a lot when deciding if the information is beneficial to them or not. It was explained in the first course I looked at that it was an introductory course, and that no prior knowledge was needed. It offered information about the instructor, the duration of the course. One of the key thing I like about this course was that it gave the learner options for tuning in either watching the lecture on video or thru a podcast. It also allowed learners to subscribe to a thread where more lectures would be offered. Learners are able to provide immediate feedback about the course since there was a comment section available. The layout here is very clear, and easily accessible for a learner. It did not require any additional downloaded which could take time away from the learning process. Another detail about this particular course is that it did not require registrations, it was a simple click on the course and you were there I the classroom.
As I continued to look through other courses offered I landed on a course that offered a “ statement of accomplishment”. This course was designed differently. The learner has different requirements such as first registering with the site that it is offered and then joining the course. Learners are able to see all the information regarding this course before joining. All the course materials and recommended material s were right there available for the learner to download and prepared. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek (2010) advises us in chapter 4 that instructors of online courses must make the course organization, calendar, activities, and expectation as clear as possible. Students need this kind of instructor and detail to help them stay organized and on task. I believe that I seen two scales of planning in the courses I viewed, on one end it seems that an instructor simply stream his lecture and made it available to anyone studying that particular topic. It was easily accessible and did not require much effort of the learner. On another end the second course was well thought out. The instructor organized the sections to accommodate the learners needs. There was direction s within the course that guided students on what to do to participate. Simonson et al., 2012, says that students need to be trained to use the course website. Students can not use course web tools effectively if they do not know how. Provide clear instructions that learners can always reference back to.
Since there are so many open course sites available it becomes the learners responsibility to select which course offers content that will satisfy their educational need. Our job as designers are to make sure we are following solid objectives that promote learning.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Boston, MA: Pearson.
OpenCulture. (2014). Retrieved October 4, 2014, from http://www.openculture.com/