Sunday, July 8, 2012

Developing an Online Course!

I am facing the challenge of planning, developing and facilitating an entirely online course. In fact, I starts in a week! So, I am busy.

Private Label Wikispace
I have created a new wikispace for the course and sequenced the learning over 10 weeks, with weekly online web conferences and reading and activities to complete from a text book between online sessions. A wiki page for each week has text references, handouts and learning resources on it to assist the learners.

Learning Resources
I have created flash movies from Ms PowerPoint and iSpring Free to demonstrate dividing medical terms into their component word parts and also demonstrate pronunciation of medical terms.
Flash cards and scatter game created with Quizlet will allow learners to have fun while they practice their medical terms and abbreviations. Medical word part crosswords created with Hot Potatoes will enable practice and self-assessment. There are also some quizzes made with Ms Word forms.
I hope that I have created a variety of learning resources for my learners. I have trialled these with my f2f students and they love them. In fact, if I don't get them up immediately after a class, I get terse emails demanding to know why they are not available (this is mostly because I have not yet finished creating them!) It is good to know that my f2f learners appreciate the effort I have gone to to provide extra learning resources. Hopefully they will also benefit my online learners.

Gilly Salmon
I have just bought Gilly Salmon's 2 books and am desperately reading e-tivities The key to active online learning. Love the book and am trying to incorporate some of Gilly's ideas into my course.

Online Assessment
I had misgivings about online assessment but I think I have it worked out now. I will use an observation checklist to assess pronunciation, spelling, dividing medical terms into their word parts and diseases and disorders. I will observe these with activities set into my online web conferencing sessions. I will also require learners to work in groups (pairs) to research and present on an organ of the digestive system. This will cover appropriate use of medical terminology, pronunciation, spelling (submit the presentation in written form),anatomy and diseases and disorders. Then there will be a Policies & procedures research project and a written task.

My big challenge will be to engage the learners with online web conferencing (Elluminate)to the extent that they are comfortable speaking (using the mike) and are able to present by the third week - or perhaps I will leave the presentations until later. They will be thrown in the deep end so I have carefully planned my online sessions using icebreakers and Polls to build confidence online as we don't have much time to get familiar with the platform.

Another challenge is to create a sense of belonging and support for the learners. I hope to do this by utilising the discussion forum for learners to share their learning. Having been a learner online I know that a strong sense of comradeship and support is possible and can be stronger than that achieved in f2f classes where you just tend to talk to the person next to you.

Another really biggie is that I will be facilitating these online sessions alone. This worries me as I know that we do not have the time to be trying to solve technical problems. Also I do not have much confidence solving technical problems. A friend has volunteered to come to the first session to give support and technical advice - thank goodness!

Where am I Now
I am creating ppts for the online sessions and lesson plans. These are being tweaked as I get more into Gilly's book - pity I had not read it before I started! Still have a couple of ppts to narrate for flash movies. And need to finalise my assessment tasks. Just as well it is holidays and is too cold to do anything else.

Will tell you how it goes in the next blog.
Oops, forgot to tell you that it is a medical terminology course but I guess that you guessed that.