Sunday, 6 March 2011

mLearning - a completely on-line course

Having delivered a fair few but strangely not actually done one before, I have recently finished taking part in my first ever completely on-line training course. I really enjoyed it! It was so different from any other courses that I have done.

Most courses that I have done over the years have been one or two day training events - EPICT, CEOP, ICT Assessor training etc., where I went somewhere, took part in something and was "trained."

Thinking back to one of the last real life training courses I did for my degree, it involved me driving home from school as early as I could get away. Cooking dinner and leaving family to fend for themselves. Driving for an hour to get to the university in Oxford. Getting into the library for as long as possible before the course session began at 8pm. Into the room for 1.5 hours of note taking etc during the lecture,  an hour's drive home, wash up, sort out lunches, clothes etc. for next day and fall into bed by about midnight! Every week the children were abandoned either to mother-in-law or husband if he was on the day shift. I know it is fair to say they all disliked it! Tis true that was about 1993 and before the Internet had made life so much easier!

With no children these days and consequently much more freedom from time constraints when I said to my husband that I wanted to do a 6 week training course he more happily agreed saying to go ahead and sign up. He asked which night it was - I replied whenever I want to do it. He asked how long it would take and I replied about 5 hours a week. I still think he thought I would be away from home.

The course was 30 hours spread over 6 weeks with each week's work being made available on Tuesday evening.  I logged in on the first night and read the week's instructions, decided I needed to do as much as possible during the week to leave the weekend to family visits, housework and planning my real work for the following week as usual, so got stuck in and did the work. It soon became very clear that the on-line course enabled much more delegate interaction than I ever was aware of in the face to face course, we had forums to discuss work, to chat in, and one to sort out technical issues. We were in touch with each other!

In the face to face course I basically rushed in at the last minute, sat and listened taking notes and rushed out at the end, a typical lecture scenario, I did have tutorial time when it came to discussing my dissertation, then a further tutorial to finalise things but had little interaction with anyone really, the most being a few minutes class discussion at the end of each session.

In the on-line course I was completely free to decide when to work, all of the resources for the course had been made available or were on the web with links provided. The reading list was easily accessible, I was not fighting everyone else on the course to get one of a handful of copies held by the library - and then return them for the rest of the delegates on the course!

There were only two hours in the whole course that were scheduled, live on-line discussions, but they were recorded for people who could not attend.

It also was very obvious that everyone on the course really wanted to do it, delegates were enthusiastic about trying out new stuff and sharing their experiences.  I learned people's names, something of their work situations and interests. People were from several different countries, working in different circumstances with different age groups, bringing between them a huge wealth of experience to the work and all willing to share their knowledge. The course was exhilarating in a way I never expected it to be. I had a wonderful time!

I would absolutely recommend on-line courses to anyone wandering whether to try one or procrastinating in any form about their value. For people not used to planning their own time a little discipline may be needed but the benefits of this on-line course were great and the learning opportunities are enhanced massively.

This particular course was mLearning being run by The Consultants-E, for more information about their courses see, many thanks to Nicky and Gavin who ran and moderated the course and to all of the delegates who shared their experiences so freely!

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