Developing online learning

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1st Feb 2000
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Report of the TrainingZone Online Workshop, led by George Edwards of the Institute of Supervision and Management, on 1 February:

Well let me suggest a couple of strands. Is it ONline when its a intranet delivered self study, unsupported package?
From a slightly different slant, we are planning putting our induction programme "on-line" via the company intranet - I would consider this on-line
Is "support", for example, critical? In the case of induction, I'd suggest it is?
I would be interested to know if other companies are doing this succesfully. We plan to separate the group policy manual and keep the induction programme to the essentials to get a staff member settled in their new enviorment Janet
Yes, even with an on-line induction programme, support from the line manager and colleagues is still vital Janet
Welcome Lesley, we're just getting started. George is exploring what constitutes online learning.
Hi, that sounds very brave of him!!
If we accept that a degree of support is if not a requirement, close to being essential in this medium, what about some form of assessment?
I see on-line learning as the opportunity for someone to take a course or learn something from their PC or laptop, whether it be via an in house system, a download from the internet or following a CBT course Janet
Welcome to the sudden flurry of four new people joining in!
Yes, I also see assessment as critical
Basically a proposal there that Online is a modern synonym encompassing all forms of CBT?
Is it not possible to build in some form of self assessment
Yes Gary, and it can be useful Formatively, but do we need to have summative too?
I think that depends very much on the course and the learner - some people may come to on line learning because they don't want assessment for some reason
Yes, but administrators will still want to track courses which are for instance a health and safety requirement (statutory) Janet
Not wanting assessment is a fair point, some people try this sort of thnig for reassurance rather than learning - and is that a bad thing!
You can track progress without assessment
Surely if we are, as an industry, to "sell" online as effective to employers,, we need to show it works. Good point there about personal needs and bite sized JIT learning though...
Also, janet properly points out : administrators will still want to track courses which are for instance a health and
sorry, CTRL C doesnt lift all the quote. I meant to add "safety statutory requirement"
Not just administrators should be tracking learning; we should be encouraging the learner to track and record their learning, which OLL is capable of delivering also.
Well to keep the ball rolling, this is about developing online learning. So far we have established (A) that support is probably part of the equation, and (b) that some form of assessment - self or otherwise - is also part of the equation. Let's look for more characteristics
I am interested in collaborative on-line working which requires learners to develop quite specific skills.
What sort of skills Joanna?
How then do i get a participative training programme for volunteers - on line?
There seem to me to be several stages in the development of OLL. (1) the transfer of company tutor-led material to a CD or Intranet, (2), the publication of in-house materials on the intranet for staff use and learning, (3) opening up internet access for wider learning opportunities. How has it evolved in other people's workplaces?
I think that many of them equate to the group learning and interpersonal skills that we teach in face to face settings, but in an electronic medium this presents new challenges (e.g.use of humour, resolving difficulties, differences).
Yes, and the absence of body language
Technical people take to it very easily, those people who are not so technically minded need a lot of encouragement from there mangaers to pick up the challenge of this new delivery Janet
However, OL L also has real benfits over f2f too - for example the more reflective learners have the time to contribute fully
I don't necessarily agree that technical people take to it easily, some of the technical people in our organisations have very fixed views
I think there are some lurkers in this group. Come on out please!
We have done some research on a very small population which shows that (using the H & M) model the types of learners that do 'best' are reflective followed by pragmatists
So if there were say a main rule I should bear in mind when authoring OLL what would it be.
Hi George, I am lurking whilst I catch up with you having arived late - also, am finding out how this works
Lesley mentions the technical people have "fixed views" - what do you mean - why are they reluctant to on-line learning Janet
I think its early in the day to develop a "main rule", but I think words like "collabborative" and "coperative" might appear in it when it emerges (if we get thre!)
or even co-operative...
What I was referring to was the development of on line learning in our College - its not either the IT or Computing tutors who have taken it on board - generally its the non it people who can see the benefits
Can I ask who (the sort of people) who are preparing the on-line courses in your college and what type of materials you are covering? Janet
That (lesley) is a reflection of email and the world. its often the silver surfers (eg Wogan's TOGS) who are most enthusiastic users, not the young bloods at the cutting edge of IT
Hello Ben
One issue for me is that on-line discussion takes a lot longer that a f2f discussion and with the different threads running through issues can be lost. This is less of an issue with asynchronous discussions, which I agree are attractive to reflectors becuase they have time to consider their answers. I get the equivalent of tongue-tied in these 'live' discussions!
So could we say that potential asynchronicity is a characteristic of good OLL?
This has implications for support and cost after all
Yes I think so - it certainly makes access more equal.
Yes, I agree George. Conversations like this suffer from being disjointed.
I suspect that's a temporary problem which technology will solve, though
If we design for asynchronicity, then it would seem thread tracking - either through content structured environments or otherwise - is essentail too?
Me too, (loosing the thread) this is my first time participating in this kind of chat, are we still seeking the main rule for developing OLL ? Janet
Not THE main rule I think
As far as courses to support mainstream students, we are encouraging teaching staff to take ownership of their own courses. Other courses are being developed commercially by outside companies whilst others are being built round software packages eg NETg
being new to OLL, are there any other forms of classification which specify different mediums for doing this apart from asynchronous and this type of forum?
My experienc of this sort of programme is that where there is a good match between learner and programme, learners like it. Any others have experiecne of this?
Our 'younger' students like to click, click all over the place
The classification issue is where I suggested we look at the start. Does OLL include CBT, CD ROM, etc, or is it more about what the net does well - interaction with others?
I think one challenge in OLL is to create appropriate 'packages' for learning e.g. reading material to download, coaching support by email and phone, live workshop chat, bulletin-style boards for enquiry posting and threads, etc - all linked to the same learning course/event.
They like to be doing so having lots of text doesn't work. Unfortunately some people view of on-line is just screens of text
Tim is pointing towards a modern interpretation of "multi medium"...... /
Going back to the points made by George and Lesley about ownership and responsiblity for on-line course or course components, I think that another good practice rule that we might consider is that of allocating sufficient time to tutors or teachers to do the job! It takes ages to moderate conferences and supervise work tasks!
Well said Joanna. Tutors need to spend real time ,
You can't fit support for OLL into the corners of the day; it has to be allocated time
(Incidentally, that is also an issue with learners)
Strongly agree, Janet (also when a person has a query raised by email - they expect a speedy response so as not to loose the momentum Janet
Yes - I find that it takes me ages to read and learn on-line - it is different but not more enjoyable!
I agree 100%. We case load our on-line tutors
wouldn't 'fitting OLL into the corners' be dependant on the type of OLL? For example, I find coaching support through email very usefull as it can be fit into any 'spare' time
Peter, have you experiecne of this?
I know that "push" based email is one method of getting gobbitts of "learning" delivered, but can you actaully "design" it as OLL?
I am just picking up the threads of what is being said and have no comments as yet
Hi, sorry I'm late, a meeting ran late.
Hello Helen
We are still on the quest for a few "rules" for OLL design, and defiing the limits, if any of the term
E mail is great, but sometimes its actually quicker to pick up the phone - particularly when you are trying to arrange something. I think that there is more to on-line learning than just on line - which almost brings us back to the beginning
I suppose, as an aside, this is a form of OLL, but its not actaully "designed" is it?
How about this little observation 'Time has a different thickness on-line'
Nice quote Joanna
To really benefit from on-line training you have to concentrate and most work environments don't allow for that. What do you think?
I am not sure i can conrtibute towards 'rules for OLL design' as i am still not 100% clear about its use - ie. when and where is it best used and for what purpose?
OLL is part of a bigger picture. We often shoot ourselves in the foot by claimimng it is a technique in its own right and excludes other forms of learning
Yes the cocentration point is a good one, helen. On-line should not be a way of getting more for less in terms of employees.
Hello Jane.
Joanna just made a provocative suggestion about getting more for less through using OLL
We are testing out a staff resource/development centre where staff can go and work away from the phone and people knocking at the door
Yes Gary, I agree that OLL works best as a component of learning rather than an end in itself. It is not a panecia but we almost need to make mistakes with it before we find out how best to exploit its potential.
Some of the advantages are that people can pick it up any time across different time zones, they may be able to dip in and select the bits of a particular course they feel are relevant at that very moment. Janet
Actually, there are 2 considerations emerging. One is design for bite sized, to the desk, chunks. The otehr seems tio be about time set aside, for example for this sort of activity....
Students have learning/resource centres - if we are to encourage staff/employees to embrace CPD and lifelong learning they also need this facility
Have any of you experienced really good OLL yourselves?
I declare an interest here - I moderate the Online trainer certificate, delivered through a virtual college, and accredited by ISM
So i would say its good ...
I can see the benefit of this type of 'live group' activity for something like brainstroming and Q&A. Howeffective in peoples experience is this for a true workshop type event? Also, are there guidelines for chairing/running the w-shop?
Yes Ask tim
I am doing an MA with the open university which is largely on-line (all the tutorials and group discussions). The good things about it have been the international context (students from japan Canada, Iceland, etc) and the attempts at 'discourse' and probelm solving (e.g.reaching joint definitions, evaluations).
Anopther issue is that this is all very well if you wish to read text, slightly differnet for those visualist amongst us
Thanks Joanna
Hello everyone. Re: good online learning - I am currently doing the University of Sheffield's MED in networked collaborative learning using Lotus Notes...the main problem we have is online decision making and managing our learning - its very very difficult to do this asynchronously
I agree with you Gary - visuals are important to me to. I have seen snippets of online presentations which although a bit simplistic now, I think could be improved greatly. I also hear Tom Peters live events are pretty good.
how do you manage this live on-line Jane?
Are you using LearningSpace, if so how do you find it??
Another thing I like about on-line working is that I am in control of when I do it: I have a busy home and work schedule and I need flexibility about when I access my learning.
Referring to Jane's contribution, Asynchronicity is a desirable element in learning then, but not necessarily in allaspects of the process...
I think this is a strong pull for lots of people Janet
There is a connection here with design and also with marketing. The more flexible you make the access, the less direct will be the "support" or "collaboration"
Tom Peters events are excellent but I would say they REINFORCE what has already been learnt. It is another experience altogether
Thanks Peter. This was often the best use of early CBT too
I have to leave, I found it interesting to hear other people's thoughts and observations. I hope you will hold another workshop on this subject soon. I shall watch this space. Bye Janet
Bye janet
Re: decision making online - with great difficulty and at great length. For example forming learning sets for workshops took about two weeks of protracted and painful discussions. It does make very transparent, however, the reliance that is usually placed iin tutors (or assumed by tutors) about a whole lot of important decisions re students' learning...
Like many I am interested in this area as it is a new departure for me, can people tell me where to get practical advice, support and tools (watch the flood of replies)
OK everyone, how about this as an aunt sally rule, "Designing OLL needs to take into account opportunities for learners to interact with the programme and where possible with others"
Tim - in answer to your earlier question about Guidelines, we've created some which you can find hyperlinked from the Workshop page of TrainingZone (see the Editorial box)
Jane, is your opinion that something like forming the learning sets would have been better done F2F or with a conference call?
Thanks Tim, will look up
We had the same expereince, Janet on our course - you have to realise how chaotic is can be trying to orangise yourselves on-line before you can do it efficiently next time. For me it is a skill that is developing all the time. It is all the more difficult when you do not know the other participants when you do it is easier becuase the fear of offending or being pushy becomes less.
Gary, email me after for that. I would like to try valliantly to keep this on the theme of designing OLL!!!
Mind you, the platform will affect the design
I also think that as you are designing it you need always to come back to the learner - how will the learner see this, what reaction will they have etc.this is far more important than if you are delivering f2f
Yes lesley. You can't "busk it" with OLL like in f2f
Its also far more difficult as we are also assuming the same cultural paradigms, how do people try to accommodate different cultures, is this an isse thought of by OLL practitioners
For beginners, there's a new book this month by Julie Duggleby 'How to be an Online Tutor' - Gower (around £15 ?). It's very simple but excellent for confidence building. Check the TrainingZone Reviews page for Leslie Rae's review of it.
Must dash, places to go, people to see, see you soon
When you are delivering f2f you can change your style depending on the mood of the group - not so with OLL
Bye Peter. We shall continue ....
In OLL, for style read "platform"?
Gary, in response to your point about cultural diffs. I have experienced international differences in how people will respond. The best epople I have found so far to communicate using email have been those from the UK. Does anyone else have experience of this?
I must be off now - this has been good and it gets easier each time I do it - lurking is OK for a while, but it is safe to come out!
Tim - certainly quicker but not necessarily "better". When forming groups the tutor normally decides or someone takes the lead or people congregate according to where they are sitting in the room. Performing this exercise online requires you to think about the criteria for group formation and to take into account the wishes of every members of the group.
Bye Joanna
In forming an OLL group, do you have to work harder to get the group to gel and break the ice?
I also have to shoot off - courses to write!! Thanks and Bye
Jane, that is usefull, are you saying that expectations are a great deal clearer through on-line discussion?
Re: email. Its only one aspect of OLL methods, but it does indicate "adopters". Helen; OLL programmes often might find an intiial f2f desirable for this reason?
I think this sort of OLL requires two skills. There's the content element (which is what people tend to focus on), but at least as significant is the process element - people need lots of help/encouragement/welcoming/reassurance, particularly as they start out. This is the bit which some OLL fails to do well.
I sometimes suggest that it's the same people-skills which good trainers use when running a f2f event.
Very similar, anyway
With adjustments for the medium - like the use of :-) and co...
possibly more outcome focuss is needed than normal f2f?? Ie. we would need to be far more critical in considering the meaning that people would read into the tone (or lack of it).
Do people find that OLL can far from being flexible be inflexible, as opportunities to adapt and 'think on our feet" are negligable, particularly in transferable interpersonal skills
I think that specific outcomes - in terms of learning aims and objectives - are as essential in OLL as in f2f
The question is, how do we make sure the learner gets there, and how do we check they have?
I don't see how OLL can help with interpersonal skills development unless it is through feedback following f2f - what are others views?
We're coming to the end of the workshop hour. A big THANKS to George. If you want someone's email, click their name top-right above. This transcript will be published on the Workshops page this afternoon - under Workshop Reports. There's a CPD Record form above which is auto-emailed to you on completion if you require one. Please continue chatting, and just close the window when you want to leave!
Gary, I can see that that would be an issue. This is my first OLL experience and on the one hand, I feel very comfortable joining in, but on the other hand, the thread of the conversation changes so quickly that it is difficult to keep up, and by the time you've written your comments that are no longer relevant
Good question. If OLL can be used for interpersonal skills or not. This is a question that dates back to learning machines
George, I accept that what you say in terms of learning goals etc - what is your view on communication outcomes (ie. being clear about all of the possible ways you might come over to others via text - and the effect that might have on their thinking and feeling)?
Again in thnk this goes back to an earlier point about OLL not being used in isolation
I think I'd like to thank you all. For me, this has been very intensive, and a good learning event.
Helen - I agree! Threaded discussion boardswhere you can respond to specific issues etc are possible more useful for this kind of discussion - espoecially if there are so many people contributing at the same time!
I suppose as technology improves we will be able to have a mix of realtime text, visual and audio presentation in OLL - where participants sit in a virtual room and you can see everyone's faces around a table.
bye - signing off - chat look forward to your views again - T
Do people have any thoughts or views about the transfer of learninig following OLL, I can see its easy for IT training but transfer of say H&S training out of a IT room onto a building site seems more difficult?
Tim - I think the rule is "little and often", and if possible use the quote facility to link your contribution to other. I am not sure of the value of emoticons in this. I supose, as someone said to me, "don't send what you wouldn't say"
Signing off too. It was great to meet you all. Helen
Which seems a good point to close on. Thanks everyone. And for those who ned to, click my name for email address. Bye
Bye from me too- hope to be able to join in the 7 march session for the whole hour...
By all.
Hi, I'm a VET Co-ordinator with a Social Services Dept. in Scotland. I want my staff to use on-line learning. About half have access to our corporate intranet and far fewer to the intranet. Any thoughts
Does anyone know of any good interactive training material for trainers?
Sorry missed about there!!!! that's on-line interactive training material for trainers - material to support the development of trainers.

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