Monday, 16 May 2011

My Professional Development Project

Along the many online courses I have taken, I have noticed that effective and efficient communication seems to be one of the key factors in the success of a course. In face-to-face interaction, we have the aid of body language and intonation to perceive if and how we are getting our message across, and to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that our course is inclusive and engaging. In online environments we do not have these cues so it becomes crucial to make the best possible use of the tools at our disposal as well as to look for other ways to hone communication so that we can prevent the learner from feeling isolated and lost, and from eventually dropping out as a result.

I find this topic fascinating so I decided to choose it for my PD. I carried out my project directly on the Moodle sandbox (no links therefore), which helped me put into practice the skills I have acquired during these workshops.

Course Description

This is more or less what I had in mind, though I have been able to cover only 2 weeks of the three I had initially planned.

Week 1
The idea was to have participants reflect on the nature and requirements of effective communication and think of ways of making this possible in online learning.

  1. Success in Online Learning: Communication 
  2. Online vs Face-to-Face Communication  
  3. Promoting Efficient Communication with Moodle as a Curriculum and Information Management System

Activities and Resources:
  1. Wordle image to trigger reflection and discussion
  2. Forum to share views asynchronously
  3. WiZiQ session to discuss the readings and the participants' reflections synchronously. Tutorials are provided for those not familiar with this virtual classroom.
Week 2  
The focus of this week was the different types of communication available in online environments, the features and affordances of synchronous and asynchronous tools,  and the importance of including synchronous tools in a medium that relies heavily on text-mediated communication.

  1. How to Enhance Online Student Engagement and Satisfaction 
  2. Opinion: The Importance of Being Synchronous
Activities and Resources:
  1. Participants are invited to watch this video:       
  2. A forum is created for participants to share their views on the readings and the video. 
  3. Participants are invited to take part in a Webquest to explore different tools that can be used to provide online live meetings for the school where they work.
Week 3
In this week, the aim is to have participants explore other tools that can help enhance communication both synchronously (Skype, voice boards, instant messaging, mobile devices, chat) and asynchronously (email, forums, news groups, blogs, wikis, podcasts, text messaging)

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