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Starting out Part 2

Page history last edited by Gary Motteram 9 years, 5 months ago

Setting yourself up for study



As with any distance and/or online courses, spending time setting yourself up in the first few days, that is the induction period, is well worth it. We'll be talking about these processes during the course too. These relate to preparing to work with the course content and with colleagues, so you minimise potential chaos when things get busy.


Working in Canvas Instructure



You will now be familiar with the Blackboard 9 Learning environment, and some of you will be familiar with other tools like Moodle, particularly if you have taken the Blended Learning course unit. Here we make use of Canvas for the bulk of the interaction on the course unit to give you a different experience and so that you can make comparisons. Instructions on how to get access to Canvas are in Blackboard.


Signing up for a MOOC


From 2015, I'd like you to sign and take part in a MOOC. These have become an important part of the online offering and are having an impact on education around the world, specifically in higher education where they are certainly having a disruptive effect.


The idea is that you should pick a MOOC that interests you and be a part of it, not just signing up, but activity engaging. You should keep a record of your experiences and we'll feed these into the course unit alongside your experiences of this course unit itself. There are plenty of MOOCs available from Coursera, Future Learn, Canvas and Blackboard amongst others. More detail will follow as the course unit develops.


 Logging your experiences




The experiential aspect of this course unit is central to its design. We also invite you to draw directly on these experiences in your final assignment. You will in essence become participant observers into the online learning experience and to help you in this, you need to keep a learning diary throughout the period of the course unit. This can be done in a variety of forms: you might have a 'physical' diary that you scribble in each week or during each study period; you might type your thoughts into a word processed diary; you might make use of the journal feature in Blackboard 9; or, you might maintain an online diary e.g. a blog of your experiences (this will be explored in the first topic).


The aim is to log those experiences relating to working in this medium, to collaborating with others in different time zones, to carrying out tasks in different ways through computer mediated communication. You will be able to draw on your diary for your assignment. You may notice themes that then lead you to reflect on that particular aspect alongside other 'data' that will emerge through forum, email and synchronous contributions.




We will be meeting synchronously at intervals throughout the course unit. For these, you will need both audio and webcam facilities. When we use sound/video as a group, it is recommended that you use a headset rather than integral mike facilities as these tend to cause feedback. Try to set up and test your equipment in these early days.



We will be using Adobe Connect for the first couple of sessions. I will give you more detail via announcements in Canvas.


Adobe has its own set of video based tutorials explaining how it all works and you can find plenty of other information on YouTube.



Previous students have found it useful to have and exchange Skype IDs early on. We are aware that Skype is not accessible in all parts of the world, so you might prefer Google Hangout, for example. However, if you are able to and are not already a Skype user, we recommend downloading and setting yourself up. 


Please post your contact details on the Google spreadsheet which is accessible from Canvas, as well as here. This then forms a permanent point of reference for you if you need to get in touch with anyone specifically off-forum.

Synchronous meeting times



We meet synchronously once during each topic period, with an extra 'socialisation' drop-in meetings in the first two weeks. Knowing that the group is located all around the world, I need to get a feel for your availability. I have set up a meeting planner linked out of Canvas to indicate suggested times. I have added times for meetings including Easter: Weeks 1, 2, 4, 6 & 8. You would only attend one of these, of course, within each of the weeks indicated, but we need to know if these will work in your time zone. Don't forget to check that out - you can use http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/


My semester is busier with meetings in 2015, because of a research project I am involved in, so meeting days may not be as consistent as I'd like. If you can't make a synchronous week, recordings of each session will be archived and posted afterwards.

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