Online courses with Connect
Hazel Partington – Senior Lecturer, School of Community Health and Midwifery
Around 2004-2005 an MSc was developed which was to be delivered entirely online to healthcare practitioners from all over the world.
One aim was to be able to hold synchronous tutorials where our students could see the staff and speak to them in real-time. This was seen as being important to combat the socialisation problems usually associated with distance learning and to enable the School to build a learning community.
Adobe Connect formed an important component in the delivery plans and the teaching of the course in 2006. Connect has enabled tutors to meet and interact with their students in pretty much the same way as meeting in a traditional attendance course. It did take a while for staff to get used to teaching in this way, however the team are now completely comfortable with its use and feel that it offers students an equally relevant alternative mode of study.
It’s strongly felt that the value of the technology is dependent on the quality of the interaction with students, and still requires engagement with appropriate pedagogical methods. Students are encouraged to participate fully by using their own webcams and microphones, although occasionally some choose to type comments rather than speak. Of course, there are sometimes technical problems, so when running modules for new students the session are to co-tutored so that one tutor can facilitate discussion, while the other can troubleshoot technical problems for individual students. It’s been found that most students are quite comfortable with the technology and soon learn their way around it. Adobe Connect rooms are mostly for facilitated discussion, but can also be used to upload and deliver from PowerPoints, and students can also use this facility for individual and group presentations. All sessions are recorded and the link to the recording is posted on Blackboard so that students can access them to revise or catch up if they have missed a session. Adobe Connect is a vital component in an array of technologies that are used in order to deliver online learning. Many of the students would have been unable to attend a traditionally taught course, so Adobe Connect, used in conjunction with a strong tutor presence and structured presentation of learning materials on Blackboard, provides a course that delivers a great learning experience.