Remembering My Hat

7th May 2010

Gamekeeper turned poacher

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 22:06
Tags: , , , ,

I’m currently studying my first OU course. I’m doing T189 ‘Digital Photography: Creating and Sharing Better Images’, a 10 point (36th of a degree!) first year undergraduate course lasting 10 weeks.

I’m doing it partly because I want to Create Better Images, but partly because I thought that as someone who writes OU courses for a living I ought to have some experience of studying them.

I’m really enjoying the course so far (end of week 1) and I might blog elsewhere about what I’m learning about photography. But here, I’m going to make some notes about what I’m learning about course design.

Most of it is stuff I did sort of know, but which has become really clear to me in only a week’s experience of being a student.

It’s really easy to feel lost in the course material, especially with our new-style all singing and dancing courses with online learning guides, online forums (FirstClass), practice forums (Open Studio in this case), links to Library resources, links to external sites, and possibly also printed course Readers or Offprints. I’m not quite sure what you can do about this – T189 seems quite well designed and laid out to me and has the navigational features you’d expect, although I’m no expert.

If the activity is designed such that you can just ‘think’ the answer then I (and I presume many other students) will just think about it briefly, then look at the comment, skim that and move on to the next bit. So I take from this that if I actually want students to engage with the material seriously, I need to design an activity where they actually do something. In K101 I used quite a lot of tables to fill in to do this, but I’m finding it harder to do that at level 3. Instead I seem to be doing a lot of ‘write a 250 word summary and post it up in your tutor group forum’. Note to self – do not overuse and think of some alternatives.

How dis-empowering and discouraging it is when you feel something is going over your head. I (and I presume other students) start panicking and loosing heart, and I’m a pretty confident learner. I’ve understood that particular bit now, but I can see further sharks ahead. I guess one of the things you can do about that as a course designer is make sure you mix up difficult stuff with easier stuff. And obviously try to explain the difficult stuff as well as you can, with plenty of examples and case material.  And encourage students to use the online forums to encourage each other.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure there will be more.

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