Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Reflections of an Online Student, Part 5:

My tutor replied to my "Reflections of an Online Student", agreeing the course on how to tutor online could be improved but commenting that my experience is different from most other students, who are happy with the course. They suggested this might be because the typical tutor for their courses has up to 200 students and are used to using the Blackboard Learning Management system to handle them.

I find it hard to conceive how any tutor could cope with providing the individual attention which students deserve, in a group of 200. I like to limit my classes to 25. If there are more than this many students, the class needs to be split into several groups. This is partly so the tutor can get to know the students, but also so they can get to know each other. How could you work in an amorphous group of 200?

Also perhaps if I used Blackboard as much as I have used Moodle, I would get used to it. At least it seems more suitable to my way of working than Web CT was. This is partly a matter of simply getting things to appear on the screen in a way which I could read. It may be that I am not using the system correctly. But I an not a novice in using web based systems and either it is doing things in some way I do not understand, or more likely just does not work properly.

However, it is also perhaps a matter of philosophy. In using the Blackboard system for this course I had the constant sense that there was some key to the way the course material was arranged which I was missing.

In designing an online course (admittedly I have only done one) I assumed the way to do it was like a web page. I design a web page with material positioned in order of importance, in the same sequence as text is read: for an English reader, left to right, top to bottom. So I put the course material on the page with the most important information at the top and then following down, usually in the sequence it is to be used by the student. Usually there is something for the student to read, then do and then be tested on. It is difficult for me to understand what other sequence could be used. In the course I have just done I spent a considerable amount of frustrating time wondering where was the resource I was to use next: why wasn't it on the screen in front of me, in sequence, under the previous step?

My conclusion from all this is that I should not be tutoring the sort of courses which I have just been trained for, in this on-line course. Neither the educational approach used, nor the technical tools are ones which I am comfortable with.

1 comment:

Deborah Veness said...

Tom, If I wasn't laughing at your tale of woe, I would be crying. It's all too familiar.