Being an elearner #ocTEL

As a lifelong learner I have had some experience of being an elearning end-user and I thought it might be useful to reflect a little on my experiences to date.

My main experience has been as an Open University postgraduate student.  I have just finished the final module of my Masters in Education (Leadership & Management).  Of the three modules required to complete the MA, the last two were delivered entirely online.  A range of delivery techniques was employed including:

  • Online module guide
  • Printed reader
  • PDF reader (no good on a Kindle really)
  • Access to the university library
  • Access to an incredible breadth of online journals
  • Online asynchronous tutor group activities (in small groups of 4 or 5 people)
  • Synchronous online tutor group meetings
  • Submitting assignments through an online portal
  • Receiving feedback on written assignments through the same portal

Overall, I think there couldn’t be a better online learning experience but – and you knew there was a but coming – there were some downsides.  These are partly down to my own idiosyncrasies and learning style preferences, e.g. I don’t enjoy watching videos, and I prefer to read offline printed material rather than online on screen (and thus within reach of wifi i.e. at home). I also found it a very lonely experience as others in my tutor group contributed little to the mandatory collaborative parts of the programme, and few people attended the virtual, synchronous tutor groups.  Having said that, I loved every minute of the whole programme.

Elsewhere I have had access to a tutor group Moodle VLE which I enjoyed contributing to.  If I had taken notes in what I thought was a helpful format during a class, or had a resource at home to share, I uploaded them to Moodle.  Classmates were very grateful!

All in all, my experience as an elearner has been enjoyable, and I have found it easy to use modes of elearning and build them into my preferred learning styles.  I have enjoyed participating and contributing to elearning activities, forums and resources, but have found that others do not reciprocate.  This leaves me feeling a wee bit resentful that I have shared and others have not.

I have come to use many different techniques, devices, software and apps to help me as an elearner including:

  • Laptop (set up as a desktop with a separate keyboard and mouse)
  • Samsung galaxy tablet
  • Kindle
  • ipad
  • Microsoft office software
  • Microsoft OneNote (on laptop, iPad and SkyDrive)
  • Goodreader on ipad
  • Google Scholar
  • Diigo
  • Sony digital recorder to record voice notes
  • Dragon Dictation (to transcribe voice notes)
  • Virtual libraries
  • EBSCO Host and other journal search engines
  • Refworks online bibliography tool
  • Phones – Blackberry or iphone
  • SurveyMonkey

… among many others.  Perhaps at a later date I will blog a little about how I use some of these – particularly the less usual ones such as One Note and Dragon.  Remind me!

In my next blog I will share a little bit about my experience on the other side of the virtual fence:  my experience of elearning as a teacher and a manager.