This is the first of what I hope will be many progress report logs.

We had the first practical block from Friday 22 – Monday 25 Feb. The students mostly seem to be pretty happy. There are several people within the class who are finding the idea of using computers fairly daunting. But they’re willing to give it a go, so I’ve been spending a bit of time reassuring them and pointing out the support options which are available to them (i.e. me, CLCs, Helpdesk, Open Access Suite).  It’s not helping that almost all students have had problems with their initial passwords not working, but we’re working through that.

We have 23 students enrolled.  Of these 5 are part-time and 4 live outside of Dunedin.  One of our students was planning to be full-time, but has had to move to Auckland at the last minute, and so is planning to study Bioscience 1 & 2 this year (which he can do by distance), then to come back next year or the year after & pick up the rest.

The online programme started on Tuesday. We’ve decided to only have Study Skills online in between Block 1 & Block 2 to give the students some time to get comfortable with communicating in the online environment.  I’ve been communicating purely via email so far, and today have started nudging the students into the use of Windows Live Spaces & messenger.

The students have a wikipage which contains all of the learning modules which make up the course. It’s a work in progress, but it’s not far away from being completed.  I’ve been working late most nights trying to pull it together – I’m just trying to keep a few steps ahead of the students. 🙂

The other resource which they have to guide their learning is their assessment. For the study skills course, the students have ten assessment tasks to complete. Click here to see the assessment overview.  Each assessment task has learning modules that support it. The students have been told that most of the learning modules are optional.  If they can complete the assessment without running through the learning modules, then I’m happy for them to do this.

We’re now three days into the programme.  Yesterday I did an audit of our email group, and found that four students were not receiving the emails that they should be, so I’ve added them in. Through marking the first assessment task I’ve picked up that 6 of the students are not participating as yet.  Some of those will be composed of the 4 that were not in the email group, but there are some others as well. So first thing tomorrow I’m going to ring them all, and find out what’s going on.

I’ve also realised that I need a regular feedback process to determine how the students are progressing through the programme, how they are feeling about the programme, and what problems they’re experiencing (if any).  It’s hard to get a sense of these things from where I’m sitting right now, but they’re so important in these early stages.  So I’ve drafted a survey up & am running it by our local expert before sending it out to the students.

So I’m mostly happy with how things are going.  I am a little concerned that so many students have not managed to participate at all, but I’m fairly sure that we should be able to work through whatever issues are there.  I’m also a little worried that some of the more competent computer users may be getting a bit bored, however the self-paced nature of most of the activities should suit them.  It’s definitely a learning curve.  🙂