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Getting students to do self-diagnosis

STORMCLOUD - What do you do when students don't want to make a choice or to work through self-diagnostic activities?

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Perry Williams
20 August 2008

Several years ago, I was piloting the design of a distance learning course for professionals returning to practice after an interval of some years. Their needs were going to be highly individual: they might need updating on one year or many years of changes in professional regulations and techniques, and they might be aiming for any one of a number of specialisms and institutional settings. A linear course structure didn’t seem appropriate, so I designed something more like a collection of resources with a supporting framework, which would enable learners effectively to build their own course. However, when piloting the interface, we found that the students were confused by the assortment of resources we laid before them. Despite all our efforts to build in advice and guidance, they could not work out what to do or where to begin. Most damning of all, they did not want to be confronted with the opportunity to “design your own course”; they just wanted to get in and get started straight away. Does anyone have experience of really good and effective guidance or self-diagnosis to help students work out which parts of a course they need to take?

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