Content, content, content…

This is a session on a fully online first year health & statistics unit for mostly on campus students. The course has been developed around two CDROMs for the material and an online CMS environment for ‘end of topic’ assessment (there are several topics).

The CD ROM worked well for delivering lots of content and the tests, despite some technical hitches, also went pretty well. The CMS was used for communication, basically support and Q&A (I think).

Some interesting results in the just compiled feedback results: 39% happy with current version 42% want current version and face to face. On the subject of fully online units for on campus students 8% believe they should be stopped 42% only used in appropriate areas 22% that they should be continued and 28% that they should be extended (more fully online units available).

So a (very fair) conclusion is that a blended approach would keep everyone happy (absolutely! fully online units for on-campus students are, I reckon, daft… I used to be a believer but then I talked to the students and saw the stats!).

The area I guess I’m particularly interested in though is the use of communication. Here it was for Q&A and support, and the students really liked it… but I strongly disagree, still, with the argument (and I’m sure plenty of people have heard this) “In some subjects it’s not about communication, people don’t need to talk or discuss, they just want the material and Q&A with the the lecturer”.

In this course only 9% posted & read many messages on the CMS (wouldn’t it be interesting to track those and see if they are the ones that are very happy with the course!) and be that a verdict on the tasks or the CMS itself I think it’s a bit disappointing. I do get the feeling though from the three sessions I’ve seen so far, that the increasing ease of multimedia creation, bandwidth issues in Australia, and the focus on content throughout our CMSs design (and possibly institutionally too) is leading us down the path of content, content, content and away from the most important thing, what goes on inside and between the people in the course. [adapted from Stevick].