Adapting for online delivery; clarifying outcomesWritten by Phil Garing
When adapting existing course content, it's tempting to assume that there's nothing to do when it comes to training outcomes. Just use existing ones, right? Not necessarily. Changing way you offer programme can result in a whole raft of 'process' related training outcomes being introduced. For example, online/distance programmes often expect students to find and assimilate information from Internet based resources. They also need to manage their own study, and are often expected to identify what they don't know and articulate this through online environment.
These expectations are often not present to same degree in face-to-face training, due to immediacy of trainer/lecturer support. That's why you'll often find students baulking at degree of independent study expected of them in online/distance courses. It seems like a lot of unnecessary extra work, when trainer/lecturer could just give information. There are two implications here for training design:
1. If we're going to add process related outcomes to programme, we need to be sure that volume of work is still realistic, and that programme is designed so that learners are trained in skills, not just assumed to have them.
2. There will be much better buy-in from learners when these outcomes are clearly articulated as part of programme. They won't be seen as an unnecessary extra, they'll be a legitimate part of programme. In point of fact, these sorts of (enterprise) skills are becoming recognised as core to many programmes, both academic and corporate. The online/distance environment is a great place to develop them, so long as they have a legitimate place in programme.
Adapting for online delivery; selecting the right technologyWritten by Phil Garing
It goes without saying that whatever technolgies are used, they have to be effective training tools. Previous Updaters have detailed how to determine profile of learner and what training is designed to achieve, you're now in a good position to make an effective decision on appropriate technologies.
The most common difficulty is in balancing operational issues and a need to use existing structures, against particular needs of learners. The sorts of operational pressures often encountered include: - Competing budgetary constraints. Often developmental initiatives compete with other 'special' projects in an environment of reduced and uncertain funding. - Organisation wide change. Significant as spread of elearning is, it still must integrate with other organisational change issues such as restructuring and internationalisation of education. - Institution-wide IT systems. Often, existing IT systems were originally designed to support administration of organisations, rather than provision of training. Where delivery software is purchased, decision is often based on cost and ease of integration within existing systems. - The development of courses has traditionally been seen as one part of job of lecturers rainers. 'Getting a course going' was something that educators did as part of their wider delivery role. It sometimes demanded additional resourcing, which was negotiated as part of annual workload. As such, it was a cost to be minimised. - Time pressure. Pre-determined course start dates often dictate small development timeframes.
1. Select delivery tool. Relevant factors here are: - The existence of legacy systems such as generic online delivery tools - The 'best fit' for existing course resources, with a focus on minimising adaption process. For example, online availability of PDF documents generated from presentation materials. - Lowest implementation cost. - Minimising need for staff training or upskilling in order to implement delivery.
2. 'Path of least resistance' development. Collate existing resources (usually print) and adapt for online/distance delivery.
3. Supplement core. Provide communication, support or learner feedback to extent permitted by timeframes and budgetary constraints.
Adopting such a model involves running a number of risks. Many of elements that make up effective face to face instruction are not readily adapted from course resources. For example: - Much of actual content is often in head of presenter, not on paper. - The role of a presenter as motivator can be missed in adaption process. - The ability to provide immediate feedback to learner's concerns or problems is part of face to face environment. Elearning often involves delays in providing feedback. Good online delivery will address this issue by developing extensive feedback resources that are immediately available to learners. - Much of value in face to face learning is derived from types of activities and interaction that takes place. Simply adapting resources does not necessarily result in learning activities or level of interactive engagement that brings about deeper learning.