Rose Heaney: Rethinking the design of a Distance Learning programme as it switches VLE
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14 January 2013
The programme I am thinking of focusing on for this mooc is a postgrad distance learning one (I am not sure if I can give the title so won’t for now) which has been running for several years in the school of Psychology at UEL on the Blackboard VLE platform. It is a very specialised programme involving students & facilitators from around the world, many of them in remote locations that are not rich in Internet access et al. To date it has adopted a very traditional approach to design/delivery consisting of a complex study guide (hardcopy & online versions are provided) that students work through reading & completing activities as directed. Many of the activities involve participation in VLE discussion forums & all assessments are submitted via the VLE but otherwise it operates much like a traditional correspondence course.
The change I would like to see
This approach is now deemed unviable, not so much because it is a very outmoded style of distance learning but more because it is unsustainable - development resources have been severely reduced and teaching staff now have much more responsibility for maintaining content alongside their teaching responsibilities so need to adopt a much more flexible and lighter touch design or see the programme die. The move to Moodle is seen as an opportunity for such a rethink and I have become involved for that reason having previously had little to do with the programme. By choosing it as my mooc project I’d hope to become more acquainted with it and form a project team with a couple of academics and a learning designer to take things forward.
How I might go about it
In the very near future I plan to have a chat with one of the academics involved & identlfy some key issues that need to be addressed. Then I will select a module or part of a module that is typlcal of the whole programme and consider options for re-design that are manageable within the timeline of the mooc.