December 21, 2011

3 essential elements for an e–learning strategy

I had a meeting this morning with someone who is planning to write an e-learning strategy for their department. He asked me for recommendations. I have three essential points:

  1. As a policy, provide lecture notes (not necessarily detailed), summaries, agendas etc for every event (lectures, seminars, assignments) in a form that can be owned/curated by each individual student, and annotated and extended. Digital course packs are only the start. As a rule, provide supporting material for everything. And get students to create similar material for the things that they do (ie seminar presentations). Whatever learning, communications and admin platforms are used, make sure they produce these outputs. Format? PDF - there are many great PDF annotation tools. Packaging? Not so sure. Evernote notebooks provide a good model. They can be zipped and distributed. But whatever, make sure that everyone is doing this all of the time!
  2. Try to define the kinds of behavior, techniques and supporting technologies that students can use to get the most out of the experience. Perhaps create a set of accounts explaining how a student might work with technology to optimise their performance. For example, describe how digital coursepacks and other PDFs can be accessed, used and annotated, and organised. Don't treat this as isolated gadgetry and skills, but rather as joined-up workflows.
  3. Get academics more involved by giving them technologies that they can trust and which give them assured and instant access to all of the resources that they might need when teaching and (important and) doing research. A mobile device with a well organised store of images, videos, texts etc AND some means of displaying (eg an iPad with a VGA connector). Reduce dependencies on networks and systems. Make them more robust and self-reliant.

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