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Iroshini's design narrative: Self Directed Online Learning session for undergraduates

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Iroshini Ratnapala
25 March 2018

Introduction session for SDOL in first-year undergraduate students

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I was the session coordinator and main resource person 


We organised this session for the first-year undergraduate engineering students during their orientation period. This was taken place with the help of supporting teaching staff. The whole session was conducted at a computer lab for 400 students grouping them into 4. The lab session was handled by the several supporting teaching staff. All the students were provided the necessary equipment and the course was delivered through the faculty e-learning system. Two and half hours was allocated to one group and there was an assignment to submit at the end of the session.  

That was the first experience of the students having comprehensive online course and first few minutes they anxious about it. Since they were fresh graduate and very new to the faculty, I organised pre-session to introduce the e-learning system. Therefore, they were confident of using the e-learning system. Majority of students enthusiastically participate in the course and contacted the staff members as soon they want to resolve some problems.

A feedback was given after the session to evaluate their first online self-learning experience and a majority of them are happy about is since it’s full student centred learning. Especially the re-reviewing the educational materials they could understand the subject due to the less competence of English language.  


The ILO’s of the session are as follows.

  • Identify the online self-learning environment
  • Practice the e-learning system for self-directed learning
  • Complete an online course successfully
  • Organise the time and resources
  • Evaluate the self-motivation on “Self-directed online learning”.


Series of actions had to take place for succeeding this event. I had a team of 10 people including me. We worked hard to make it successful in three phases;

  • Design phase
    1. Selected a subject area in the course curriculum to develop our online course.
    2. Collected required references, software and purchased additional equipment
    3. Designed the whole course and identified the teaching technique for each section
    4. Develop storyboards for video creations and SCORM packages
    5. Design the final assignment
    6. Design the evaluation questions

The problems we faced during the design phase identifying a subject area to develop the course. Because most of the engineering-based subjects are complex fofirst-yearar students to understand without any pre-subject knowledge. Therefore, we selected MS office package usage in Engineering applications. All the examples were designed based on the practical examples in engineering applications.

  • Development phase
    1. Recorded and narrated the videos
    2. Created SCORM packages.
    3. Populate the material to the e-learning system
    4. Set the materials on a conditional basis
    5. Tested the course with some teaching staff.

The problems we faced during the development phase is the unavailability of professional in multi-media development. We had to recreate the videos several times to get them up to some standard. I had to train the supporting staff using some other examples to give an idea of creating educational videos.

  • Implementation Phase
    1. Divide the whole batch to 4 equal group
    2. Divide the staff members to handle the session
    3. Allocate the time for each activity and guide the students during the session

During the implementation phase, the hardware equipment and the network gave lot of trouble to us. Specially, the videos were not loaded properly since we added those on the learning site. To overcome that problem I added all the videos to a youtube channel setting in unlisted and embedded the videos on the course page.Since the student group with diverse learning pattern and indifference language competence, some of the students could finish the course early while some needed more time.


I have also learned new technologies and opportunities to develop an online course. Majority of students enjoyed the session while few refused to learn alone. Some students were very reluctant to proceed without any help or instructions from the instructors. But I am happy about the overall success of the session.

I think we better group the students based on their language competence and technology familiarity. Then we can allocate more time for those who have less experience with the computers and the internet.


The students prefer to learn with the technology with diversifying interactive environment but they want you to be at their back and it gives them confidence and courage to successfully attend and complete the online courses.

Iroshini Ratnapala
05:47 on 26 March 2018 (Edited 06:04 on 26 March 2018)

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