I'm shortly before breaking up my first "pilot"-course with moodle because of the inactivity of the participants. Of course I read a lot of stuff about the do's and dont's facilitating an online course and I know I made some mistakes (or better experiences?).
After searching the literature I learnt that most of the authors recommend to combine the attendance to at the course with the certificate. Of course that's a kind of soft force. In contrast to the academical world In the business context I don't have this opportunity.
Thus I'd like to get some advice. What do *you* do to keep the participants up to scratch? Are there some essential points I have to take into account before or during the course?
Thanks a lot
some thoughts that crossed my mind but are not necessarily sensible or applicable are:
1) make people pay for courses..they will tend to fiunish them to get their moneys worth.
2) If '1' is not possible maybe a refundable deposit which is returned upon course completion.
3) A furthter gift of sorts for finishing the course...maybe a publication of your own in digital format which costs you nothing to distribute but maybe some time to create.
4) Marketing the benefits of finishing the course as opposed to just being a part of the course or just starting it.
I'm sure others have much better ideas...just a few thoughts anyway...
After having served more than 22,000 students with online courses, we have found that the most effective method of "encouraging" student interaction is to simply require it as part of the course grade (or in your case, certificate).
Keeping students on task in a timely fashion is a significant challenge in online education and by requiring weekly assignments, participation in discussion groups, you will foster that elusive "community of learners" that is desired in education. Left to themselves, our experience is that students tend not to post in discussion groups and will wait until the last minute to submit assignments.
I think the critical element in developing an online course is that it should be designed from the outset with specific interactions between faculty and students and student-to-student opportunities.
For an excellent overview of these topics I suggest a visit to:
http://www.thevid.org , a unique project I participated in developing that provides a Virtual Instructional Designer to you at no cost.
On the level of day-to-day behaviour, I find it very useful to remember to ask direct questions that pull students in to conversations about the content AND themselves.
Encourage students to fill out their profiles in the first week and share some details about themselves, then take the time to get to know them (encourage others to do the same!).
As you go through the course, you'll now be in a position to relate the content to each student and ask specific questions (in journals, forums, assignments etc) that cause the student to also reflect on these linkages. This can be difficult and time-consuming but always rewarding. In addition, your modelling of this behaviour provides an example for students to do the same with each other.
Looking at your web site, Stephan, it seems that at least some of these ideas might not be that foreign to you, at least in an offline context. Do you think they might work if applied to your online course?
I've got plenty more to say about all this and other techniques for fostering educational discussion in my thesis, and someday I would like to create a full-scale "How to Moodle" course for teachers.
By building these connections that Martin brings up, you establish an oft-neglected, but absolutely essential part of learning (write this down, it's important):
Genuine learning only takes place when there is an emotional connection between the learner and the material being learned.
Relevance to the student and his or her goals is strategic to the learning process. The emotional connection, broadly put, means the student has found that internal link between his/her self-interest and the subject matter, whatever that may be.
Thanks again fro the resource as well.
I'd like to thank you for the useful answers and the large amount of useful hints
BTW: I asked a similar question on the ASTD e-learning discussion board. In case you're interested in you can follow the thread under http://www.astd.org/virtual_community/comm_learntech/.
Thank you again!