Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Impact of Open Source

Open Yale Courses
MUSI 112 - Listening to Music

            Yale University shares an educational experience with the users through this website. There is a variety of courses that were presented in a face-to-face setting and are now presented for all visitors in the website. There is no cost involved and the user can learn at his pace.  The website offers orientation about the purpose of the website, the terms of use and additional help.  It also provides space for user to fill a feedback survey that helps them improve the learning experience.

Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so?

While exploring the Yale University website, I felt attracted to participate of the Listening to Music course (MUSI 112).  It is interesting to observe how a traditional course becomes an online learning experience.  After selecting the link to the class the user finds information about the instructor, about the course and information on how the course was delivered in the traditional setting.  The side bar guides the user to interact with the content and access the materials provided.  A syllabus is provided which includes information about the text materials and the grading policy that was used in the face-to-face instruction.  Lessons are divided and presented in a sequence.  Each lesson includes a video, audio and transcript of the conference.  The video covers the lesson being taught and keeps the learner engaged since the instructor interacts with the audience in the video and presents examples of the lesson being taught.    

Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?

            Our textbook Teaching and Learning at a Distance, shares some advices for instructors that teach online.  The first one is to “Avoid dumping a face-to-face course into the web” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Albright, 2009, p. 248) this is exactly what Yale is doing.  They are recording a class and sharing it on the web.  Zemsky and Massy, 2004 share four cycles that may be operating in the campus.  I see cycle 1 which presents enhancements to traditional courses and cycle 3, which integrates course objects, in this example videos, flash files, audio and text. 

Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?

            The Listening to Music course, presented by Yale University was delivered in a traditional/conference delivery method.  “Adults are more self-directed and have specific reasons for taking the course.  They expect the instructor to help them achieve their goals” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Albright, 2009, p. 251).  There are no tools to assess if students have prior knowledge prior to the course.  There is no space for interaction with the instructor or other learners.  “The presence of other learners can benefit the learning experiences” (Dabbagh & Bannan-Ritland, 2005).  Therefore, the use interactive tools such as discussion boards or blogs could enhance active learning.  No assessments are provided or follow up activities such as assignments and projects. 

            This online learning experience was just a copy of a traditional lesson in a digital format.  I consider this course a one-way communication, where the instructor has the information and the learners just listen and receive it.  There are no tools to measure learning.  Integrating interactive tools that will provide interaction with the content, the instructor and other learners could maximize valuable information presented.

              Simonson, M., Smaldiono, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and Learning at a Distance.

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