This week in my EDUC 6135 course we are looking at the planning and designing of distance learning (DL). In planning the design system, one has several components to consider such as “the learners, the content, the method and materials, and the environment, including the technology” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 152). Also, the interaction of these components must be done well to produce effective learning experiences. We have also taken a look at some of the Open CourseWare courses.
Open courseware “is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities” (Open CourseWare Consortium, n.d.). The one that I chose to examine was at http://oyc.yale.edu/astronomy/astr-160#syllabus titled Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics. At first glance, it seems a fairly simply-designed course. But, upon further exploration, there is a syllabus stating the name and title of the professor, description, text required, requirements, and grading. The class is divided into sessions which include an overview, resources such as class notes and websites, and the video presentation. The lectures are broken down into chapters which include the timings on the video. You can also choose to view/print the transcript or listen to or download the mp3. It also has options for low or high bandwidth viewing depending on your internet connection. It even includes the two midterm exams and the solutions. There is an option to view the catalog and buy books, and to also submit an evaluation survey. All of these options and methods are good planning for online learning.
The course is organized fairly well for distance learners as it is simple to navigate and has some variety between text, audio, or video giving the learner options. The videos also allow for the learner to go at their own pace, stop and repeat sessions. The lessons are designed to be completed in a linear method (Simonson et al, 2012), but that is up to the learner and what they want from the course. The video lectures, notes, and resources are all very well done. However, since there is no registration, credit, degree, or certificate, it is strictly an instructor-led course with the learner obtaining their learning on their own. There is no interaction. The learner is actually auditing the course. They must do the learning on their own since there is no feedback. Essentially, I believe the course is mostly a traditional classroom learning experience without actually being in the classroom which is not one of our text’s fundamentals of teaching online (Simonson et al, 2012).
As for the active learning, I did not feel this course provided much of that. The only active learning would be starting, pausing, rewinding, and stopping the videos, and taking the exams and checking the answers. I feel this course is good for those that truly want to learn and can do so with no interaction. But, to create a better learning experience, there needs to be more interaction such as discussions. But, since this course is open to anyone at any time and there is no registration or monitoring, it is nice just to provide the information from a classroom such as Yale which many would not normally have the opportunity.
Open CourseWare ConsOpen CourseWare Consortium (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from http://www.ocwconsortium.org/en/aboutus 201211292148141780654192
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.