Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Introducing Dr. Susan Nash to the Blog Roll

Dr. Susan Nash (a.k.a. the eLearning Queen) has given permission to have her blog listed on my blog roll. There's lots of goodies in it. Be sure to check out her associated website at http://www.beyondutopia.net/ where she has available many resources that she has authored herself.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Are you hungry for some practical tidbits?

The latest issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning has a beautiful article chock full of practical tidbits on how to deliver online course via distance. Kaye Shelton and George Saltsman provide a wonderfully written collection of best practices for the modality that I found refreshing to read. I also found it great to see that I follow most (but not all!!!) of the best practices identified herein when I design my online courses. There's always room for improvement I guess!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Can you be everything to everyone?

We are working on a course that may have more than one delivery mode. We're considering having these two delivery modes:

1) Distance learning course.
2) Traditional classroom course.

As for instructional materials, we are leaning towards producing a paper-based set of course notes and an accompanying set of multi-media CDs with video, audio, and other multimedia. The course notes would refer to the CD at appropriate times in the contents.

For the Distance course, we'd like to have a student to instructor ratio of 100:1. Whereas in the classroom course, we would like to have a 30:2 student ratio. In effect this means the classroom course is approximately six times more expensive to run than the distance course. The instructor salary is the major cost.

One possible solution for cutting down the cost of the onsite course is to distribute no material to the students. No course notes and no accompanying multimedia CD. Therefore, the in-class students would have only the instructor's "song and dance" delivered in the lecture as resources.

I'm beginning to wonder about the ethical nature of this possible cost cutting measure. We are deliberately holding back existing resources (course notes and CDs) from in-class students due to cost. Is this cost cutting measure putting the in-class students at a disadvantage? Does the fact that the in-class students have a higher instructor to student ratio compensate for this potential disadvantage? Does the fact that all students, regardless of delivery mode,will write the exact same final exam affect the conclusions in the above two questions?

Comments are welcome!!!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Ultimate WebCT Handbook

Available as of July 2004, The Ultimate WebCT Handbook: A Practical and Pedagogical Guide for WebCT 4.x arrived in my office last week. Measuring close to 600 pages, it looks like an excellent resource at first glance (especially to staff members who are new or relatively new to WebCT). Lots of detailed descriptions on each tool available and its advantages (For example, the section on the Quiz and Survey tool is a whopping 68 pages long! WOW!). Lots of "how to" sections that contain useful and detailled step-by-step instructions. Perhaps most useful and interesting are the sections that focus on best practices for online teaching. For example, common group work activities and assessment methods are discussed.

At $70USD + $10USD shipping it's not for every instructor (especially those with lots of experience working in this modality); however, it should be in every faculty lunchroom's reference section.