How Will Learners Access Content?
There are such a wide variety of options here.
Is there a textbook for this course?
Quite often the textbook is written by the faculty member and it is an essential component of the course. In other cases, I go through a series of questions to determine how necessary this particular textbook is for this course.
Are there equivalent open educational resources available that could meet your needs? If you must use this particular text, is it available digitally?
What journal articles and web resources do you use?
Are your journal articles available full-text through the library database? In the past, faculty have been surprised to find that the printed course pack of bundled articles are actually already available as full-text through our library subscriptions. We have made inroads through improved communications between our Campus Bookstore and theLibrary but it’s always worth re-checking. Some issues arise with book chapters, which we deal with on a case-by-case basis through our network team of liaison librarians and our Copyright Coordinator.
Whether you are using video, textbooks or online journals, your voice as instructor is necessary to guide learners through the content by providing context, connections and relevance. You can do this through basic HTML in the learning management system or by using HTML creation tools like SoftChalk. Some instructors prefer to host external websites or blogs for ongoing discussion week to week.
There are compelling reasons to use videos but there are many pedagogical and technical issues to consider.
Video can offer flexibility for learners to access content remotely and on their own schedule. It can be a great tool for learners to revisit a particularly challenging concept; replaying sections repeatedly as desired. Videos can provide additional accessibility. All videos produced under the eLearn initiative will be transcribed and captioned to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
However, video is not directly analogous to face to face interaction. You cannot simply record your in-class lecture and expect your learners to have the same experience as those in the room with you. Passively watching videos is not the same as sitting in a lecture. The energy of being in the presence of other classmates and a teacher is not directly replicable on video.
This is a university class; your students can read. What advantage does your voice have over the content? Is there are a graph, image, metaphor or diagram that would benefit from your verbal explanation? You must consider whether reading PowerPoint slides would be more appropriate as text alone.
Apart from the pedagogical considerations, there are technical limitations. Use of video raise equity issues regarding access. Bandwidth, computer equipment varies even still in Canada. Some remote communities in Northern Ontario are completely unable to view video online. We cannot predict how access to the Internet or devices may vary around the world.
CPI has procured a video streaming server for distribution that will scale the video quality proportionate to the bandwidth available and only send the learner the segments they request. Of course, this great feature comes at a cost and there are financial implications for use of this server.
Okay, so you really want to use videos. Here are some guiding questions
Will you use pre-recorded videos?
With the rise of Khan Academy, pre-recorded instructional videos have become more popular than ever. Lecturing over slides is very familiar for many faculty. For those courses supported by the elearn intitiative, CPI provides screen-capturing software licences, e.g. SnagIt and microphones and captioning/transcription.
For some Math and Accounting courses, we have provided Cintiq tablets
cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) Wacom Cintiq tablet is available for CPI eLearn initiative proposals
Will you connect to other videos available online (YouTube, Vimeo, NFB, PBS, CBC etc)?
Do you have DVD materials that require copyright permission in order to use in your online course?
Do you need to use synchronous tools to work with students
Brock University holds a campus license of Ellluminate .
In some cases there are particular classes where culturally specific practice is based on narrative interpersonal relationships makes synchronous learning essential. When learners are in remote communities, synchronous conferencing allows a teaching and learning conversation to unfold in real time respectful of those cultural preferences. Unfortunately, as mentioned, many remote communities also have extremely limited bandwidth. Additional technical support for Java, audio and video pose challenges to using this service, In these cases, use of central ITS’ teleconferencing systems may be more appropriate.
It’s worth noting that while some learners appreciate the opportunity to connect live with an instructor, required attendance to classes at particular dates and times remove the flexibility built into online learning.