Sunday, August 01, 2010

Reflections of an Online Student, Part 3: What do I do next?

Having found I was got the text big enough to read for my Course in Online Student Centred Discussion, I started to look at what was required in what order to complete the course. The course largely followed the normal sequence: read some material, do an exercise and discuss it online . However the course did not have the regular weekly pattern I was used to from other courses, where there is the same sequence of read, do and discuss, each week, interspersed with a few larger exercises. Also the course materials did not seem to be presented on screen in a logical sequence: I seemed to have to read perhaps the third item in the list before I could understand the first, or there would be a reference to something somewhere else. There did not seem to be many hypertext links for taking me straight to course resources, and I often had to revert to a systematic search: trying every item in the menu until I found what was being referred to. The loose use of terminology also did not help, with the same resource being referred to using different words in different places, so I was never quite sure if I had the right item.

There were some quizzes, which were useful. But it was difficult to find which quiz applied where in the course, as all the quizzes were listed together, rather than being linked from the logical sequence in the material. The quizzes also had the annoying habit of requiring me to press a save button after each question and so opening a conformation window for each. At least I think that was what was happening, I never really worked it out. The actual quiz questions were useful and helped me firm up my knowledge of the material. However, there did not seem to be any easy way for me to work out how I had progressed with these quizzes, the grade book, not seeming to make a lot of sense (I found out later this was because this was a non-assessed course and the grade book was not being used).

The course notes were provided as PDF downloads. There was a problem with the interface as if I simply clicked on a set of notes I would get an error message instead of the documents. I had to remember to press the right mouse button and select to download each sent of notes to my computer and open the from there. As these are PDF documents, they were harder to read than web pages but after increasing the text size I was able to read them. The layout of the material was okay, with the exception of inappropriate graphics. At one point I was perplexed by a graphic of two people ballroom dancing. Given the course is teaching cultural sensitivity and teaching to a wide range of people, the including of this image seemed out of place. It took me some time to work out it was a visual pun, being accompanied by a caption. The content itself seemed reasonable, giving an introduction to some tutoring and educational concepts.

Now I had some idea of what I was supposed to be doing, it was time to introduce myself to the other students in the forums. I was not looking forward to this, being late to the course, with no excuses as a self-professed e-learning expert. See part four.

No comments: