image by sjcockell
By Lisa Allcott
Recently I had the chance to participate in two online courses – one at work on e-facilitation and one for personal interest on art in picture books. Offered by the American Library Association, this focused on the books that had won the Caldecott medal for illustration.
Both used Moodle as the learning platform and both were pleasantly easy to navigate – no technical issues with getting to the discussion forums, or accessing the pdfs of provided readings from either work or home.
The design and requirements of the two courses were quite different:
- The e-facilitation course was very collaborative – the facilitator grouped participants who were then required to communicate directly with one another, work together and produce a specific outcome to which she gave very detailed feedback.
- The picture book course was much more informal – we each commented on the specific picture books that were given as examples of a particular artistic feature (eg medium, elements of art) according to our interests. Small threads of conversation developed but weren’t as intentional as in the e-facilitation course. The facilitator contributed to discussion, but also regarded herself as a co-learner.
In both cases the courses were fairly fast paced and needed a decent time commitment to get the most out of them - at least five hours a week for the e-facilitation course. The Moodle platform for both courses is left open for a period of time after the course finishes. This gives participants the opportunity to go over older material and continue posting if they wish.
I found the online experience very interesting and learned a lot, both in terms of content and also from the experience of trying virtual learning - a great way to do some further professional development without being tied to a specific place or a time. At the personal level, it was fascinating to work co-operatively with learners from all around the world – we had participants from Malawi, Nigeria and Jamaica. Our Jamaican colleagues even helped my son with one of his homework questions – why can Jamaicans run so fast?
If you are looking to expand your personal learning network, I’d thoroughly encourage you to try an online course – I’m already looking for my next online learning experience.