Review of “Innovation in e-learning” OU course


Over the past few months I have been under taking the innovation in e-learning module via the OU.

This course has taken us from considering what innovation is and how best to implement it, looking at models and theories relevant to e-learning, encouraging consideration of issues around privacy to finish up by designing and critiquing our own e-tivities.

Part of the value of this course has come from experiencing e-learning from the experts in e-learning. Whilst this course has a significant workload for one 30 credit module (15 hours per week and 4 essays!) the tasks and activities have been designed so that the majority of the work is a pre-cursor for the assessed components. It has been interesting to see just how much work it has been for our tutor to maintain the discussion forums. Whilst there are only 12 of us in our tutor group, our tutor must spend many hours per week responding to discussion forums and prompting engagement. It is also interesting to see the difference in engagement from students in a course that relies on participation in  forums in order for learning to occur when compared to my own courses where forums are an added extra. But despite an expectation of participation there is still a significant amount of lurking and catch up being played.

One of the essays we were given required us to reflect on 10 postings we had made in the discussion forums. I think this was a useful tactic in maintaining engagement but it did result in a lot of retrospective posting around the due date of the essay!

We used Elluminate which is a system similar to adobe connect. We used it as a group of students, but I think we would have benefitted from some lectures being delivered through this medium. Whilst discussion forums have their place I think it is  a mistake to rely on them solely. The disjointed nature of asynchronous communication really detracts from the learning as I found it quite hard to maintain the thread of an idea when it would be discussed over a number of days.

Overall I would strongly recommend this course It blends well,  theory and practical experience and the opportunity for experiential learning as an e-learner shouldn’t be underestimated.

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