Introducing learners to open distance learning: a new 1-2 hour study module

The openED online open distance course titled ‘Business and Management Competencies in a Web2.0 world’ commences its third presentation next week. As before, I’ll be involved in the research and evaluation of the course and the use by distance open learners of the website.

For this round, I’m also written a new additional module titled An Introduction to how to learn with open distance courses such as openED.  The aim of this module is to help the learner understand how to study better using open online material and should last 1-2 hours. This module is based on the most common questions asked by openED participants which I have identified from a detailed review of the Round 1 and Round 2 forums and over fifteen hours of text-chat session transcripts. The module uses examples from the openED course to help illustrate ‘real-world’ examples and includes three short reflective exercises (5-10 minutes) aimed at thinking how using online social spaces such as forums can enrich learning experiences. The module includes short sections on:

  • What is open distance learning?
  • When to start?
  • How to study an open module
  • Using forums to meet others, share work and resolve questions
  • Live text-chat sessions
  • Group working
  • Getting feedback and recognition for your work

To see the module in situ check out the openED website. I have also made the original text document (3,600 words) available under a limited creative commons licence for reuse and repurposing. You can download it using this link: Introduction To How to Learn With Open Distance Courses_Cross_2011_v6  

One exciting feature of this module is my sharing with the learners a basic visual representation of the recommended learning route (learning design). I have of course had to abstract the design to suit any of the 10 mondules (each differs in content) so it does not convey the detail or nuance that I would often put in such designs. 

 Image of the openED Task Seuqnece diagram

The intention is that participants work through the Introduction module first. This will better prepare them for the course modules and we will monitor how this contributes to greater or more prolonged engagement.

In case this format of representation is unfamiliar: you can see the seuqence of tasks for the learner running down the centre (white boxes). The resources to be used are shown to the left and right of the tasks. The left hand-side refers to the section of the module that would be relevant and the right-hand side to the online tools that could support them.

Another form of representaiton I’ve used in the module has been comparison tables. These tables aim to help the learner understand the choices available to them – the potential options. This one contrasts the option to start the course any time with studying it during the ‘supported’ times offered by the openED team:

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For more information about the openED course please visit the website. Also for this third round we are also trialling a twitter stream (#openEDr3) which will feature module start/end reminders, flag up interesting discussions, times for the chat sessions etc. And of course, if you do find a use for the Introduction module outlined below, feel free to post your experience (and adapted material) below.

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