I’m in the midst of creating an online class, and specifically doing some edits for the content that’s already been created. The instructional designer for the school I’m working with has gotten back to me with several notes, and much of it are items that probably wouldn’t have been as hard to manage if I weren’t in the position of juggling several computing platforms at once in order to produce this. Now, let me note, this isn’t a knock to that school, or online classes in general, but it is an observation of some of the hurdles that tend to happen when governance doesn’t keep pace with the instructor, or the lesson.
The context of the class is that of creating a mobile ministry. In five sessions, I go through a summary of much of the work that’s been done here at MMM for the past 8 years (yes, its really been since April 2005 that the online aspect of this magazine has been in existence). For this class, I’ve got to handle working through a learning management system (a content management applications specifically made for online education) called Moodle. I’ve also got to create content inside of the enterprise-favorite, Microsoft PowerPoint. Inside of these containers I’ve got the requirements to create engaging and interactive content – and pretty much assume that all of it will be consumed session-by-session and while folks have little to nothing else on their plate. I’m not a fan of that methodology if you couldn’t tell.
At this point, I’ve got to redo a lot of content, and all of it is happening through the use of several mobile/connected tools:
- my Nokia N8: serves as the audio and video recorder (excellent in both of these capacities)
- my Kindle Fire HD and 1st gen Apple iPad tablets point towards Evernote and Microsoft Office Online to create the text-based components of this class – the latter doesn’t do so well on tablets
- Dropbox for sharing files between my devices and with the school I’m working with
- a personal wiki (using TiddlyWiki) on my Nokia N9 (different device) where much of the content generation, resource collection, and management of all these parts has happened
- And if that’s not fun enough, a borrowed PC to do the parts with Office Online that are just flat out unusable on these mobile devices
One could read all of that and get the impression that creating a mobile and online course is a lot of work and takes a ton. But, I don’t think so. In fact, I’ve done my best not to push back against the school that I’m working with in order to get a better idea of how to take my mobile-mainly approach and fit it within these constraints. That said, this could be done in a much easier way. For example:
- There would be one and only one document, Fargo.io an online outlining web app that connects to Dropbox accounts -created by the inventor of RSS (and oldest blogger) Dave Winer
- Audio and video components would be linked using the Dropbox “share link” feature but these would be created on a single mobile device
- Group discussions occur via Twitter (only) with access to the tweet stream restricted to the in-class participants only (also helps that Twitter is accessible via SMS, web, and email digests)
That doesn’t sound like much, but once you have your outline (as a professor), then there really isn’t much more to a class other than sparking the discussion(s) that lead to knowledge development/transfer.
I’m not done the edits that I have in place here, but I’m thinking that I might be up for doing something like this for the next presentation or course that I’m asked to lead. Seems like too much of a hassle to be using this tech the way that I do, but then have to take several large steps backward in order to teach people the lessons I’ve learned – content shouldn’t be locked, should be accessible to the greatest number of people, and should be tailored to their unique experiences with its application. I don’t know that content management systems, or governance really enable that right now. But I think that we can get there if we have these kinds of examples that simplify what can be done, then get out there and do it.