The e-Learning Department has been working on replacing our brief annual face-to-face student induction session with a more comprehensive online version. This is to cover all the university’s web systems (VLE, email, SharePoint, SITS- mynewman, Mahara e-portfolio and also the physical and wifi network on campus). Progress to date has resulted in a Moodle course structured topically with a brief text intro to each topic, a screencast explanation followed by a Moodle quiz. Today we tested this model with OULDI Course Aspects Facilitation Cards to see what they would have to say about our design. I was sceptical that they would say anything really as this was not a ‘proper’ academic course but Anna and Nazryn were keen to apply them to the work they had started.
In fact it proved to be a very useful exercise.
What became immediately apparent after the first exercise was that there were no green cards. These represent Communication and Collaboration. We had three orange Guidance & Support cards, five blue Content and Experience cards and four purple Reflection and Demonstration cards. We talked through this imbalance for some time and concluded that in this instance it was OK but the discussion was very useful in cementing our thoughts on what we were doing.
The second exercise you do with the cards is to add four more cards and create a diamond shape to represent how you prioritize the activities. This too was useful as it wasn’t clear-cut and the exercise forced us to talk through and agree on our priorities. Having completed both exercises we have decided to:
- include authentic activities (e.g. students will do tasks on Sharepoint instead of us simply asking questions about Sharepoint).
- offer students choices about how they learn about the various systems (e.g. by doing authentic tasks, watching videos, reading texts etc).
- redesign the materials in Xerte to ensure accessibility and hopefully to make them friendlier to mobile devices.
The exercise also prompted us to talk about how we could ensure that students actually did the activities. We discussed various options such as encouraging them with badges and making other activities conditional on the completion of these ones, but did not arrive at the perfect solution. We also struggled with the fact that students would not be able to prepare themselves ahead of their first week at university because they would not have access to these systems.
However, we all agreed that the cards were a useful way of looking at the course and a good prompt to discussions which teased out many details we had not confronted before.
The online student induction into the university’s web systems is part of the Newman in the Digital Age project and the first of many online courses that the e-learning department hopes to produce to support digital literacies.