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SJ From F2F to on-line support for B201 Global Direct

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Sioban James
30 March 2015

Title:  From F2F to on-line support for B201 Global Direct

Narrator:  Over the summer of last year I was asked, with another tutor, to help create tutorial resources for B201 Global Direct – an on-line version of the B201 course I tutor for the Open University.  These tutorials would be delivered via OU Live.

Situation:  After and initial face-to-face meeting at the OU in Milton Keynes, with the course team leader, the work was to be completed by myself and another tutor. At the initial meeting time scales were arranged and a tutorial schedule decided upon and the work divided between myself and the other tutor. Contact would be virtual, via email and telephone, and a Dropbox folder was created for us to put in on-going resources.  The team leader drove the work; they had been tasked with finding a way to take a course, which had originally been designed to have face-to-face support, and create resources that would allow for this to be delivered in the virtual environment of OU Live.

Task:  We were trying to create / adapt tutorial materials for an on-line only version of B201.  Success would be measured in part by this creation, that by an agreed date we would have a full set of tutorial resources, including PowerPoint slides, tutorial plans and tutorial notes.  Success however was also to be measured in the use of the tutorials created – in how well they worked and suited their purpose.

Actions:

Creating each tutorial started with looking at the content to be covered, the course is divided into topics, which have a given range of materials.
Case materials were then considered for the purpose of creating activities that would lend themselves to the tools within OU Live – drop and drag, breakout rooms and so on.
A rough plan for the tutorial would be created and shared with my colleague for comment.  When agreed the plan would be completed fully.
PowerPoint slides to accompany the plan and the tutorial notes were developed.  These were all posted to Dropbox for both my colleague and the course team to access.

There were problems:

The nature of activities within OU Live need to be different than those tutors can use in a face-to-face environment.  It is better to keep them shorter and more focused than would be necessary in a classroom, this made it difficult to cover some content meaningfully, that content that benefits from more discussion.  We overcame this by linking activities, short individual activities building up knowledge content.

It was also difficult to fully convey the purposes and hoped for results of the activities.  This links to a comment in the H800 materials – design is an inherent part of any educator’s and trainer’s practice (i.e. preparing for teaching/training sessions or creating learning materials, activities and assessments). Indeed, it is so core to what educators and trainers do, that it’s often taken for granted; it’s assumed that it ‘just happens’. In other words, ‘design’ is so embedded in a practitioner’s practice that it tends to be implicit – not formally articulated or externalised for others, apart from at a relatively superficial level in the module syllabus or lesson plan.’  (Open University, 2015).  It was difficult to fully convey our understanding of what we had designed without being overly prescriptive in what tutors could do within these sessions.

A further problem was with having 2 tutors with different styles producing tutorials.  Again, difficult to overcome but we were successful in part by standardizing our approach using standard plans, tutorial form (all starting with an opening discussion for example) and tutorial notes.

Results:  The tutorials were completed as per requirements; in this respect the objectives of the activity were met.  However, how successful we were in producing effective resources is still to be seen.  I have used OU Live with my current group – to allow me to assess the efficacy of the resources we produced, however, only few tutorials have been used so far, not enough to gain an overall picture as to how effective they are.

Reflections:  For me this was an extremely valuable experience and I learned a lot about how tutorials and their resources need to be different for an on-line environment.  OU Live is becoming increasingly important within the OU, training in this is a requirement for ‘appointabilty’ on courses (the new B100 for example), what I have learned as part of this activity is still building as I gain more experience of OU Live, via these tutorials or others.

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