Which learning resources are especially interesting or useful in your courses?
Things are moving so fast that it is important to include up to date resources as much as possible. I think that case studies are very useful whether these are text, audio or video based. Ideas are often sparked by seeing examples of what other people have done, even if it is only to disagree! I do think it’s important to consider moving away from text where that is relevant. The oral tradition is much older than the written tradition and I think that the instant popularity of YouTube shows the huge and latent demand for non-text-based resources. Having said that, I think it is also important to let students know why they should be watching a video or listening to a podcast and how long it is before they click.
In what way do you use social media in the courses?
We no longer suffer from a lack of information and what we need are reliable guides to access the best information quickly and effectively. So I would encourage learners to build their own trusted network as part of the course so that they can continue to learn once the course is over. This network can be a well-chosen group of people to follow on Twitter or on some of the newer curating tools such as ScoopIt.
Say a little about the types of tasks you include in your courses.
People learn from doing and interacting with others about what they are doing. I always try to include tasks which require learners to produce something. Then in some cases I require them to share what they have done and comment on what some of their peers have produced. I have seen the metaphorical light going on so many times when people take a look at what their peers have done that this has to be a central part of my approach.
What do you do to build an active student environment in the courses?
Although I have been involved in elearning for many years now I have to remember that it is the exception rather than the rule that my learners know what to do. So the most important thing is to react extremely quickly when one of your learners does something active. The concept of the digital handshake can be useful here. When someone posts a text, a message or a video, it is as though they are extending their hand and it is up to me as the course facilitator to take hold of that extended hand and acknowledge it. I may not want to give my opinion so quickly. I may want the discussion to build a little before giving some input myself but it is so important nevertheless to give a sign that, yes, I noticed that you did something and thank you very much for that. There is nothing worse for an online learner than the experience of posting something and for there to be absolutely no reaction. The next step is to make it clear that other learners are invited to add their contribution. By making my expectations clear, this somehow encourages interaction between the learners rather than just between the facilitator and individual learners. It is this peer interaction where the most learning occurs.
Finally how will you set your personal stamp on Campus NooA?
I have been using coaching more and more in many different contexts over the last few years. I think many people have a stereotypical view of coaching which involves the aggressive sports coach with a loud voice who is never satisfied. I’m hoping that I can show that a positive and open approach can achieve a great deal in an atmosphere of mutual respect.