Of courses and resources

Last year I was part of a team that authored our Flexible Learning 2020 (FL2020) course – 11 topics on how to rethink teaching and learning in the shadow of a global pandemic, while changing VLE from Blackboard to Canvas.

Canvas’ stats of page views confirms that the course had a relatively short shelf life. What do we do with it now – do we replace it with another course or a set of resources? Is one approach better than the other? I made a table…

Course Resource 
It has a beginning a middle and an end .
There’s some kind of feedback (formative, auto marked) or it is moderated.
There is motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic) to complete it.   
Once complete there is little motivation to return to it, apart from reference . 
There may be an idea of a cohort progressing through it at key times.   
It’s designed to take participants from a defined level of knowledge/skill to a more advanced place.
Ideally, it contains activities  for participants to do with the information.
Something that’s designed to work just-in-time.
Signposts further resources and information.
Designed to be searchable – jump in at any point.  
Visit multiple (short) times.
Digestible chunks – works on the web . 

Now that we are in Semester 2, it’s clear that the questions we are asked are not ones that our FL2020 course answers. We have all moved on. There’s a temptation to add more content for the intermediate audience, but we know this will make everything harder to find and our sense is that what will now be the most valuable is a set of searchable resources.

Co-incidentally, the University of Kent have been running a series of “Digitally Enhanced Education Webinars” and I stumbled on Dominik Lukes’ presentation What should educators know: User interface and User Experience . I was struck by his description of how design needs to be aimed at intermediate users (with routes in for beginners). 2020’s collective baptism-into-blended leaves us with very different mental models than we had pre-covid – and being reminded of the basics is plain annoying.

From this perspective what’s sensible now is to retire the course, it did a reasonable job, but the scaffolding isn’t needed any more. We can pull out some nuggets into shorter help guides, articles and case studies that colleagues can find more easily.

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