Saturday, March 03, 2007

A long & Winding Journey...

When I first started my e-learning portal, I was practically “in the dark” – not knowing where and how to start. It was such a long and winding journey before I finally realized my e-learning course on the Moodle platform (open access learning management system). In retrospective, it is unbelievable when I imagine the number of hours I have spent on putting the content and the various components of the course. Indeed, I consider the development of the portal as a significant milestone in my teaching career, an achievement that I am very proud of. I was so enthusiastic about the project that I spent at least a few hours a day (and practically everyday, often until late night) for the whole semester (14 weeks).

Why it took up so much time? Let me explain…
The design of my e-learning course is perhaps rather unconventional in the sense that the course content is evolving as the classroom lecture progresses during the semester. The e-learning course is divided into 14 weeks. After each lecture, I will give a summary of the lecture in the portal, usually within 24 hours! In most cases, I add some additional points, analogies, illustrations, and examples. When writing for the portal, I prefer to use informal language or “conversational” style. From the feedback, I find the students like this approach because they feel like as if I’m talking to them directly. Another point that I should highlight here is that I often discuss the important points/concepts of the lecture in the portal from different perspective, not merely repeating the same things I have presented in the classroom. This way, the students would benefit more and try to understand the concept presented in the lecture from different angles.

I spent a great deal of time also in developing the various learning activities. Learning activities can help transform online courses into exciting, meaningful, and active e-learning experiences. Much like the activities and games used in traditional classroom training, these e-learning activities can be used to increase interactivity, engage learners, accomplish learning objectives, develop online relationships, promote active learning, and create learning communities. Some examples of learning activities are:

  • Forum – There are two types of forum: general and specific forum. General forum is the place where the students can post a message, comment, and suggestion related directly or indirectly to the course. Specific forum, on the other hand, is specifically for discussion on topics related to the course. Typically, after a number of lectures, I will post a question related to those lectures in the specific forum. The use of forum as one form of learning activity allows some interactivity because the students can give their response and their colleagues can add or comment on that response. This will generate a discussion thread that lead to close interaction among the students, the extent of which rarely achievable in the conventional classroom lecture.

  • Quizzes & Games – These learning activities are focused on providing the students with an understanding of the related concept, with the element of fun. There are different types of quizzes: fill in the blank, multiple choice and matching pairs. The Word Game that I developed has been very popular (see feedback from students). This game is similar to Wheel of Fortune, i.e., a clue is given and the student click the letter to find the right answer. Another type of game is an interactive crossword. My experiences with “playing to learn” e-learning has taught me that the use of games and simulations can help bring to life knowledge and information that might otherwise exist only as bullet points on slides. The use of stories as the basis for case studies, scenarios, role-playing, and problem solving in a game or simulation-based format provides a memorable, vivid, and fun means for live e-learning session students to learn, remember, and retain knowledge effectively over time.

Perhaps the toughest and time consuming task was preparing the “virtual (online) lecture”. The online lecture is done in the form of PowerPoint presentation (converted into Flash format) combined with narration and “talking head”. Preparation of good online lecture is very time consuming. It involves preparation of the slides, script for each slide, recording and editing the video, recording the audio and finally combining everything into a single presentation. How is the online lecture can be useful? In my case, when I teach about production of snack foods, I can explain the sequence of the process and showing the picture and video clip of each stage of the process. The students can view the presentation repeatedly either for revision or to get better understanding of the process. This is a great way to add value to the classroom teaching because very often the time to cover even the important aspects of the course is very limited.

There are plenty of rooms for the journey continues...


Dr Hasanah said...


Tahniah Dr. Karim. Tabik!
Sama macam doc, membangunkan laman e-learning telah banyak mengambil masa saya. Pengalaman sendiri mengajar.... tapi, bila dah siap, tak boleh senyum juga sebab terasa ada sahaja kekurangannya.

Karim said...

Memang begitulah jika kita sentiasa mencari kesempurnaan. Yang lebih penting kita telah menjadi sebahagian dari mereka yang menyumbang (uploader) idea and pengetahuan kepada masyarakat internet, bukannya hanya sebagai pemuat-turun (downloader).


Denna said...

Great work.