Randy Borum said:
I am constantly thinking about how best to adapt eLearning principles like thematic continuity and storytelling into a semester-long course covering a broad range of material. I'd welcome any thoughts, musings, or inspirations.
The really cool thing about the academic environment, in my opinion, are the elements at the core of each program. I place these in two categories:
The core facilitator of each academic course is the instructor. The secondary facilitators are the students themselves. Whenever I take an online course through university I expect most of my experience to be influenced by the facilitation resources. We don't get to see this as much in the non-academic space. So we rely on the self-directed experience to drive the solution.
One of the core artifacts in an academic course is the textbook. There are often other peripheral artifacts (videos, tutorials, articles) as well as artifacts established by the primary and secondary facilitation elements within the course.
My point... I think any self-directed element needs to leverage or spring-board off of these two resource categories. Framing it this way, there are some really neat ways to approach continuity and engagement within an overarching continuum. Leveraging real world activities will tend to lend more authenticity and a richer experience. For example:
- A short video at the beginning of the course establishes some tension and lays out some potential conflicts that the students will help to resolve. This could be "someone to save" or just someone that needs help "inventing".
- Each student is assigned a toolkit which may consist of more abstract things like design or problem solving lenses (for each problem presented we want you to look at the problem, theory, or proposed solution with lens X and lens Y)
- A "Dig Board" is established with a set of prime, major, or minor quest discoveries. A student may pick one of these Digs as part of an assignment. They post their discovery to the board when they have uncovered the artifact for all to see. They describe their findings and the other students examine these findings with their lens tools.
- As artifacts are uncovered the student's name is listed on a "wall of fame" indicating the achievement.
- When a preset number of artifacts have been discovered, a new video is released further propelling the arc (or creating a new cliffhanger). A few short videos could be setup to create a sense of volition - to drive students to engage in discovery and cogeneration of clarity. Making a small use of plot mechanisms will prevent this from being the centerpiece of the course (detracting from the real focus) and will help to minimize the effort to produce (though it will still take plenty of effort to plan).
- The activities themselves create the fun. The story just adds a little bit of fictional icing to suspend the sense of doldrums.
The media pieces / interactions are brief and are a small part of the "experience propulsion system". The rest is all organics and leveraging the human interactions and concept artifacts (textbook, etc..) That's what I have in my head anyway