Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What Happens When It's Over?

What do we do with our online courses and e-learning experiences once they are over? Many institutions take them down (as we do here at NSCC), and the learners move on to their next opportunity. To me this is a missed learning opportunity. What if previous learners or graduates want to get some of the materials they created, or have something to add to the current serial of the course?

Of course this is exactly what a lot of our learners do in "brick" courses as well. The course is over, they can put the textbook on the shelf (or sell it), and not worry about all of that course material that was accumulated over the duration of the course. Our current mentality is "cool, the course is over - time to put it to bed and move on...".

I figure that if I believe in life-long learning (and I do), then I need to provide a "life-long" learning environment. We often bring back grads to talk to current learners, and this would be another way to do that - get their experiences into the learning mix.

Right now that happens by e-mail (if at all), not the best way to do things. I'm starting to play with wikis as a way of "persisting" a course, and allowing former learners and grads to continue to contribute to the learning environment if they want to.

I have also received some excellent advice from SLED, the Second Life Educator's mailing list - https://lists.secondlife.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/educators . Chris Hambly (Audio Zenith in Second Life - check out audiocourses.com) uses the following tools to help persist courses after they are over:

Podcasts (yes including getting ex students interviewed)
Forums (dedicated alumni sections)
Yearly AC bash!
Instant messengers
Even text messages recently.

(Thanks for the great ideas Chris).

I plan on exploring some or all of these tools to broaden the learning experiences in my courses and to try and encourage graduates to continue to support their own learning and the learning of those that follow them. I'll let you know how it goes.


chrishambly said...

Hi I was googling and found your entry.

Hope the tool ideas work out for you, we find students really enjoy the podcasts, there is something really intimate in sharing with a voice. Something very human.

Oh by the way the link to Audiocourses.com is an error i think you missed out the "o".



Ian H. MacLeod said...

Thanks for the comment Chris and for picking up my typo - I have fixed the error and the links now work. Sorry about that. I really must learn to type one of these days.

You are doing some great things in Second Life