Experiencing ISD

June 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment

Although the Master of Art program I’m currently enrolled in at RRU deals with Instructional Design and online / distance education, it hasn’t really allowed me a practical application of what I’ve learned.  When the position of Moodle administrator came up within my school district, I enrolled in an online Moodle administrator certification course through remote-learner.net in the hope of increasing my chances of getting the job!  I was rather excited with this prospect, for two reasons: firstly, I a get to experience an online situation, from the point of a learner in a commercial/corporate program – a different environment from the online public education sites I’ve used recently; and secondly, I can apply the knowledge I’ve formed through my MA in the form of a critique of an actual “real” commercial program.

The course is a 4-week asynchronous course, with some synchronous bits tossed in, via Elluminate Live!  As I am on the other side of the proverbial classroom, I’m going to use this blog as a reflection / critique of my experience as an online learner, in a different context than that of RRU.

It has been roughly a week since I began the program, at a total program cost of around $400.00.  The site is relatively well designed although I have run into three concerns:

1. After I signed up and paid (June 21) for the program that started on June 23, I was informed via email that the instructor would get in touch with me and provide log-in and site information prior to, or at the latest, on the 23rd.  Late on the 23rd I had to email the “help desk”, concerned that I had not yet received any of the needed information – it arrived early on the 24th.  Unfortunately, I had already missed the synchronous “get to know you and your instructor” Elluminate Live! session.

2. Our instructor emailed a rather nice and informative greeting and provided instructions for a introductory / get to know you assignment, no doubt attempting to build a sense of community and foster some online interaction.  That was three days ago, and he has not been on since.  Thus while we have been providing feedback on our introduction, our instructor has not – nor has he responded to any of the questions or concerns that have been posted on the site, some of which are rather urgent.

3. We are required to view two videos, produced with Camtasia.  I have run into some issues, mostly compatibility issues between the latest version of Flash and Camtasia formatted videos – the easiest solution I’ve discovered, is not to save Camtasia videos in native Camtasia format (as has been done), but rather to save them in .avi, .wmv. or .flv format – all of which allow for almost universal playback.  While one of the native Camtasia videos will play, the other does not – insisting that the latest version of Flash (10.1) that I have installed is not new enough to view the video.  I have contacted the instructor, as have several others – however, since he hasn’t been online in three days this concern has not been addressed.  Further compounding the stress of the situation, is that the video explains how we are to use the Sandbox portion of our online course, a rather critical testing ground for those of us new to Moodle.

Overall, I’m not impressed with the quality of the program to date.  I feel that there is a disconnect developing between the learners and the instructor, and that this disconnect increases transactional distance, and is counterproductive to the construction of a interactive and workable online community.  Essentially, one week of potential community building time has been wasted due to the inattention and inaction of the instructor.

We’ll see how this pans out over the next four weeks.


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