Task 5: Share your ideas (up to 2 hours in lots of small chunks)

Picture of Cheryl Scudamore
Technical start up
by Cheryl Scudamore - Monday, 16 March 2015, 5:05 PM


Well I guess I have fallen in the first on-line trap of not pre-testing the technical aspects. So I guess my first tip for the next course I run is to suggest a pre-start test run for participants. I wondered why I couldn't watch Abi's video this morning and its because I seem to have a general Adobe Connect issue......

Hope to join you all soon.....


Abi Ball
Re: Technical start up
by Abi Ball - Monday, 16 March 2015, 6:02 PM


It does sound like you have a wider Adobe Connect issue.  It is heavily Flash dependent and that does sometimes cause problems (particularly on Macs and mobile devices).  Have you tried the system check to see if that highlights any problems?


Picture of Adrian Judd
Re: Technical start up
by Adrian Judd - Thursday, 19 March 2015, 8:57 AM

If feeling welcomed is one of the first stages in online learning, then having a major technology fail is a problem...

Organisational firewalls can sometimes be the problem with Connect though.

Re: Technical start up
by Hazel Rothera - Saturday, 21 March 2015, 9:04 PM

As the webinar was going on, and looking at Salmon's stages of online learning, I found myself thinking about the need for an online "Week 0" - making the initial course pages available, and having opportunities for people to test the key technology, a few days to a week before the start of the course proper, and sending everyone an email stressing how much it will help them if they log on and do this. Maybe even get everyone to send a message by some means confirming whether or not they've been able to get the key technologies to work for them - early enough that there is hopefully some time to troubleshoot...

Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Re: Technical start up
by Malcolm Kirkpatrick - Sunday, 22 March 2015, 6:58 PM

Hi Hazel,

We teach a blended course of on - line and face to face teaching/learning and we recognise the barriers to learning that technology can pose.I think that your idea of a technical 'ice breaker' is a good one.

We run an 'induction module' which is a more formal version of the TOOC course information section, where students are encouraged to study and complete it before starting the course.This is a supported module that covers all the technical and VLE navigation, Library acess etc. We advise  that this should take only 2 - 3 hours, but is essential, especially for those who are new to on line learning.


Picture of Michael Mason
Re: Technical start up
by Michael Mason - Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:03 PM

From my experiences of online teaching thus far, I am inclined like Hazel to think 'Week 0' is a very important step for learners and perhaps a stage that has not been given the emphasis it deserves. Getting familiar with basic navigation of the VLE being used is pretty critical for many, I feel, to build their basic confidence in the technology and connectivity before the rigours of the core subject material are introduced. If a student is still struggling with basic navigation in weeks 1 and 2 when there is also pressure to follow the academic content, a sense of isolation and disconnect can develop rapidly, with all the problems that brings for learning and retention.

Have others found Week 0 important for this reason?


Abi Ball
Re: Technical start up
by Abi Ball - Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:23 AM

Thanks for your thoughts Hazel, Malcolm and Mike, I couldn't agree more.  It is particularly important for those learners who are returning to online study after a period of work (or indeed who are late to online learning generally) as they can be so lacking in confidence or even fearful of the technology that they are put off at the first hurdle.  We tend to assume that undergraduates will cope with the technology but have any of you had experience of younger students struggling with technology?


Picture of Judy Sandeman
Re: Technical start up
by Judy Sandeman - Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:33 PM


Yes I have had some younger students who struggle with some aspects of technology but this could be due to following instructions (eg. for entering an online classroom) in a second language.

I think that a 2 day O-week would be a good idea though I can still see the benefits of integrating it as part of the course.  Maybe the 'O-week' could just be kept to the technical details.

Looking forward to joining the webinar this afternoon.


Picture of Elizabeth Lovegrove
Re: Technical start up
by Elizabeth Lovegrove - Monday, 23 March 2015, 11:32 AM

Thanks for these thoughts, Hazel. Interesting that you mention week 0! In most of our online courses, we do have a Wednesday-to-Sunday period before the course starts which we call week 0, and which typically contains some of the same things we did in TOOC last week, like the arrivals lounge.

With TOOC we made a deliberate decision to make it a whole week, and to blend the course induction/familiarisation stuff with the beginning of the content. It's set up this way partly to emphasise how important we think the induction processes are, and partly to encourage participants to take the time to reflect on the processes at the same time as doing them. The double load can make it harder, though, it's true, and is unlikely to work in less 'meta' course contexts, so I'm glad you've identified the need for a week 0 in courses where medium and message are not so interlinked.