Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beyond the electronic document

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my motivations for doing an online course about K-12 Virtual Learning was that I have participated in a number of online courses myself that were simply a matter of reading online documents and responding to them.  Although this did mean that the participants were able to discuss and collaborate asynchronously across different time zones, the actual content was not much different from reading a book or attending a lecture.  When we are designing content for online courses I think it is important to go beyond simply reading electronic documents in order to deliver the most effective way of engaging with the content.

Studies have shown that a number of factors increase engagement:  first of all the content must be broken up into manageable chunks as students' attention tends to wane after about 20 minutes.  Other factors that keep attention include the use of video, audio, real life stories and the use of mobile devices to interact with the content or the concepts being introduced.  I was interested to see that in the revamped IB online workshops there are now several video and audio files (though in my opinion not enough as most content is still delivered through electronic documents).

Other techniques to reinforce concepts can be to use simulations and 3D images on the web and on mobile apps.  In addition hands-on interactions encourage deeper learning and problem solving skills.

Of course one of the best ways of delivering effective and engaging content is to have the students create it themselves.  In the upcoming module, during the creation of content online that shows their understanding of the essential elements of the PYP, the participants in my current workshop have to collaborate together in either pairs or small groups of up to 5 people.   I'm excited to see what the coming week will bring, how they will work together and what they will create.

Photo Credit: libraryman via Compfight cc

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