elearning tools – do it right.

James Farmer‘s presentation ‘What’s Changed’ is very stimulating, if a little unnerving is some ways. It certainly provoked me into reflecting on my way of noodling away with learning technologies.

A key point to come out of it for me was – don’t just use elearning tools, use stimulating elearning tools; create a community of enquiry. I was taken aback when he cited online tests (specifically multiple choice) and message boards as anti-heroes in elearning. I feel I can make a case for them both within the context of my curriculum area.

Online tests integrate text, images and sound efficiently. Here’s one about the terribly dry, theoretical subject of scale construction. I could do similar exercises on paper in the classroom but online exercises make it a more powerful experience for all learners. They also allow me to gather data and track progress easily, as results and answers are given both to the learner and me (as an automated email).

Discussion boards bring together a community that would otherwise not exist, again, in my case, bringing sound into the environment (pretty important in music). Here’s one that garners peer and professional feedback for young songwriters.

This is not to disagree with James Farmer’s points – I recall one of our institution’s inspections when I asked to present to the inspector how the music department was using elearning. I sensed that as long as I had a pile of stuff online with ‘elearning’ stamped on it I would get a good commendation, without any real judgements about ‘fit for purpose’.

James wasn’t overly enthusiastic about moodle – I spent yesterday setting up my course area in our new moodle and I am enthusiastic about it. Forums, glossaries, peer review, eportfolios, blogs, assignments online – all with multimedia. I started building an area for electronic copies of handouts and assignment briefs (.pdf and .doc files) but quickly stopped myself when I considered how easy and cheap it is to burn CDs.

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