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Online Graphic Design courses scenario (below HElevel)

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Sancha de Burca
19 January 2013

Online Graphic Design courses (below HE level) using blogs for evidence and feedback

Sancha de Burca

Actors: Individual participants around the world contacting tutor through blogs:– Jessie a 15 year old homeschooler from Vermont, US; Laurie a 17 year old from Edinburgh, UK; Zenab a 45 year old mother from Bradford, UK. Tutor based in UK who oversees their work in their blogs.

Goals:  Jessie wants to gain high school credits to get to college; Laurie wants to dabble with design but might not take it too seriously; Zenab wants to start learning design and make a portfolio so that she can later go to college to study interior design.

Settings: Most of the action happens in the participants’ own homes and occasionally their local libraries and on fieldtrip locations.

Objects: Each person has access to their own or family computer or laptop; Laurie also uses her iPhone; Jessie and Zenab use compact digital cameras. Zenab also uses a large sketchbook which she scans to upload to her blog.

Actions:  Zenab finds the initial setting up of the blog very challenging and almost drops out of the programme. The tutor emails her a few times and eventually sends a voice email to find out what the challenges are , which helps Zenab to overcome the difficulties and make the blog. Laurie is confident and sails through the course and seems very IT literate but her work is a bit thin and she needs prompts from tutor to work more deeply. Jessie is systematic and works it out and begins to undertake the course fully. Emails help to prompt him along.

Events: Zenab works slowly but methodically through her project and is encouraged by the tutor. She is quite needy and asks frequent questions but responds well to feedback. She is motivated to continue and the tutor points out places where the project touches on Zenab’s real love, interior design. Jessie works thoroughly and undertakes every activity. He is willing to learn and asks for advice at certain points. He takes feedback on board and starts to undertake independent work. Laurie is motivated and likes the topic but skims much of the project and does not attempt to go into more depth. The tutor sees creative potential in her work and tries to develop these skills but Laurie has a busy social life and is not bothered to put in the extra mileage, as the project is more or less a pass time for her.

Results: Jessie works so hard and begins to understand the bigger picture that he produces an excellent design outcome and gets a good mark. His blog back-up work shows depth of analysis beyond his years.  Sadly his mother feels that the work is not pertinent to his future college career and prevents him signing up for the next project. Laurie enjoys the project and makes a decent final piece but has not done so much background work so her grade is average. She says she might do another project at some point but feels that she could do just as well on her own – she doesn’t see the point in doing more in-depth work. Zenab finds the work hard and has trouble getting the time and space to do it but works well and presents a final set of designs that show potential. She will continue to do further projects getting more challenging and is delighted with the start of her portfolio.

 

 

Your design: The course materials scaffold the participants’ learning from the start - understanding the tutor role; setting up a blog and the benefits of doing so; showing what is the point of each activity; what to post in the blog for the tutor to see and what project (learning) outcomes each activity is for. The activities take learners through analysis of the brief, research, analysis and ideas generation, ideas development and evaluation, idea realisation, reflection and target setting (not necessarily in such a linear order). There are built-in opportunities for independent work. Tutor guides, gives feedback and gives further reference links as appropriate. Formative assessment (feedback) is continuous – when learner adds a blog post the tutor will comment. There is summative assessment at the end and a certificate.

 Scrutinize your scenario & revise as necessary

What claims are you making: for your designs? I’m claiming that the materials are usable by a range of users in different contexts and who are aiming for different goals by taking the courses. The tutor reinforces the blog guide and encourages the challenged. I’m claiming that different people will approach the projects in different ways. Levels of previous IT experience will make the projects easier or not to undertake but are adaptable to either end of the spectrum. The work is somewhat student led as they can work when they want and post when they want – so they summon feedback when they want it.

Our design will enable learners to begin to undertake a professional design process  by following the scaffolded learning activities.

The important features of context in our scenario are setting up the blog and how difficult this might be to individuals. Also the design of course materials (PDFS with interactive links) guide learners through. They can do as much or little as they want.

I think perhaps a place for learners to swap experiences etc would be good….

Comments would be greatly appreciated.

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Donna Smith
6:39pm 20 January 2013


Hi Sancha, this is great! At the very end you mention that it would be good for users to have a place they can swap experiences. Do you have anything in mind? How about twitter? This would be a useful way for participants to engage with each other, and would bring another dimension to the project. They could talk 'socially', with use of a hashtag also useful - students/the tutor could speak about various elements of the course, swapping helpful hints and tips etc. Donna.

Sancha de Burca
8:14pm 20 January 2013


Thanks Donna, Yes Twitter would be a good idea. I've noted in feedback to OLDS MOOC that I found Twiiter a kind of support system here - comments and links to blogs describing the frustration and bewilderment of others helped me to realise I was not alone!! My uni students also have a FB group that we staff stay out of in which they air their niggles as well as support each other's work.

Sancha

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