Friday, October 26, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 12 - First Day

In Part 11 I looked at the first draft of the material for an Electronic Document Management course. The first four hours of the course was last night and overall it worked.

There were some difficulties with the physical layout of the room and equipment, which confirms my wish for designed flexible learning spaces. Having a room with the equipment in place and no doors to get locked out of by the security system would greatly improve efficiency.

The computer lab used is designed for individual students working each at a computer. While there is a projection screen at the front of the room there is no projector installed and no provision for placing one, nor for a presenter to present from. I improvised by standing the projector on a overhead projector trolley and my laptop on a cardboard box. The result was I was stuck in a dark corner of the room with the fan from the projector blowing hot air on me, while stopping my laptop from falling off the box. This should be sorted out for the next session.

Only one student had used Linux before, but none had difficulty logging in and starting the Firefox web browser. Once in the web browser they had few difficulties navigating the Moodle course ware system. One glitch was that some of the exercises were not opening the HTML editor to allow the students to type (this appears to be a problem with how I configured with Moodle student access). At that point I had the students work in groups with the working screens.

The students were far more reluctant to type exercise answers into the system than I have experienced with previous courses. This may be that as public servants they are reluctant to commit an opinion to writing, even when assured it is just a class exercise. As a result we used more discussion, and less typing, which worked well.

As expected there was far more content than the time allowed. I was difficult to choose which material to concentrate on, given the diverse backgrounds of the class.Three students are very inexperience in records management, working in senior capacities in major government agencies, one is working on e-archives and the others have less experience. What they all appeared to appreciate were learning about the details of Wikis, blogs and the details of thew web. The problem here is to retain the focus on business document use, rather than entertainment.

One aspect which worked well was the student access to the notes. The students opened the notes accompanying my screen slides and explored some of the links, while listening to presentations.

What might be useful for subsequent courses is to have part of it by distance education. The students might, for example, come for a one or two hour group class, then have the equivalent of eight hours of distance education, then another group session.

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