Monday, May 3, 2010

Synchronous eLearning Design Overview

As I described in my last post (Help me Design Synchronous eLearning), I am working on a school project that requires the design of an eLearning course that includes at least one online synchronous session. After getting some comments with tips and doing a little more research, I have come up with a decent lesson plan for the introductory session of the course. Keep in mind that this is just an introductory session and the majority of the course is a project based lesson involving participants completing a project on their own. I've included an outline of my lesson plan for the introductory synchronous session and would love your feedback. Please let me know if you have any ideas to help improve the design or if you just have a comment about synchronous eLearning in general.

Goals of Introductory Synchronous Session:
The overall goal of the course is for participants to learn how to build Moodle course sites by actually building a site on their own. Because participants will be off on their own to build a Moodle course site, it's important that they leave this session with an idea for what they want to use a course site for. Therefore the goals of this course are to introduce Moodle and what it can potentially be used for and to help participants develop an idea for the project.

  • Welcome - Brief overview of the course structure and objectives of the course. Keeping this "Broadcast" portion of the course short and sweet so that I can dive into the activities.
  • What is Moodle? - Many of the course participants have never used Moodle and really don't know much about it's potential. Before they can fully develop an idea for their project they need to have an understanding of what they can do with Moodle. I found a great "What is Moodle" video at that drives home this point for me so I will use that as a brief introduction to Moodle and to get the conversation started.
  • Moodle Hopes and Dreams (Poll) - In this section we will start developing ideas for the projects by taking a poll asking them what they are hoping to use Moodle for. This will give me an idea of the participants backgrounds and the kinds of projects they will want to complete. I'll segue from this poll into a brainstorming session by discussing their expectations for Moodle.
    • Poll Question - What are you hoping to use Moodle for?
      • K12 Course Site
      • Corporate Training
      • Other
  • Brainstorming for Project Ideas (Whiteboard) - Now we'll dive into creating project ideas. In this activity I'll be asking participants to write down potential project ideas or just uses for Moodle while I write down their common ideas using a "whiteboard" feature or simply writing them in a word doc while sharing my screen. The goal of this section is to get their wheels turning about how they can possibly use Moodle and what they want their project to be.
  • Sharing Ideas - At this point participants should have a great idea of what Moodle can be used for and hopefully they will have narrowed down what they want to do for their project by taking the stage and using their mic to share their idea with the rest of class. This activity will give them the opportunity to bounce their ideas off the rest of the class and receive feedback to nail down what they want to do for their project. Participants should have an idea for their project narrowed down after sharing their idea with the class and receiving feedback.
In all I feel I have a decent plan for the structure of the course but would love to hear your ideas on how I can help course participants to realize the potential of Moodle and to nail down an idea for their project. I've done my best to keep the "broadcasting" to a minimum but still feel there is room for improvement to make this session more engaging and effective for the participants. Please share your ideas for improving this design by posting a comment.

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Jenise Cook said...


Thank you for your Twitter invite to preview your Screenr video for this project.

Online Personal Learning Networks are enhancing my own development daily. And, I know I'm learning from your synchronous elearning project.

Thanks for letting us in on it!


Ken Andrus said...


Great job, that was awesome. Just one suggestion - depending on the size of the class you could grid off the whiteboard with a table or something and ask the students to pick a square and write in their project title instead of you writing them in off the chat comments. It would give you more time to interact and give the students who are not familiar with web conferencing tools more opportunity to experience the tool.

Thanks for letter us help,


Joe Deegan said...

Love the suggestion Ken and thanks Jenise. I got some more suggestions via Twitter that I wanted to include here. Thanks Tweeps.

@gfriese say's that he always tries to start things off with a bang to add excitement at the beginning.

@bennymill say's that students might like to discuss their previous experiences with Moodle and @jenisecook adds to ask them about their initial concerns using Moodle.

cynan_sez said...

* why have them write in chatbox and then have you copy it to the whiteboard? at a practical level you'll likely find it difficult to maintain flow and momentum in the session as you pause to retype what YOU think is important. just let people write on the whiteboard directly - don't get between their responses and their own words.

if necessary then you as moderator shuffle the results around, to better fit on the board, group thematically etc.

* maybe I didn't understand this correctly, but the first thing you're going to have the group do in a synchronous session is watch a prerecorded video? why is this within your (precious) synchronous time rather than an action for the learners before the session?

* is this the first time this group of learners have gathered together in a realtime space? are they going to be engaging and collaborating more as your course goes on? depending on some cultural norms (maybe they're all highly motivated and verbose people... maybe not) you might want to consider some introductory icebreaker to help them form/storm/norm/perform - to build trust and sense of engagement as a group.

Joe Deegan said...

Thanks Cynan. Totally agree and this is exactly why I put myself out there.

* I actually didn't even think of having the learners write on the whiteboard themselves. This is my first synchronous eLearning design so I am still learning the ins and outs of the tools. I will definitely be handing the control over to the learners by having them post on the whiteboard.

* I agree on replacing the video with an icebreaker. The participants are co workers and do know each other very well but I can see how starting off with something they sit and watch doesn't set them up well for participating throughout the session.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

andy said...

Personally, I use Showdocument for online teaching and web conferencing. I'm not saying these programs aren't good,
But I think a web-based application is always better, since there's nothing to download or install.
try it at . -andy