Some conclusions drawn while working on topic 3 regarding how to organize active courses. There are differencies between in campus and distance courses, but on the otherhand I think that both types of cources need to be designed in the same way to be relevant in the future.

During our work in the group we agreed on a few viewpoint and aspects woth taking into consideration when running and designing courses.

  1. Forming

According to University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) there are some advantages and disadvantages in the way of dividing students into learning groups. There are some major ways of doing this and each of them have different pros and cons.
Random appointment
Easy and quick, but the need of attention if groups have inactive members.
Easy to administre, but teacher have to be aware that some students might not know who to work with and students might have hard to find groups.
Selective appointment
Some say that it can be disadvantageous for less performing students and a risk is the Pygmalion effect (teacher asume all among high performers do their job and miss out if one of them not do what they suppose to do).
Task appointment
Many find this motivating, but unbalanced topic selection with many in some groups and few in others is a risk and there can be a selection bias. Friends tend to sign up for the same topic in the hope of working together.

2. Communicating

Encourage teams to collaborate with online applications outside of the LMS environment. The tools in most LMS platforms are not conducive to effective group work, use Web 2.0 tools outside the platform
 such as chat tools, video conferencing tools, blogs etc. to get the students to interact socially with each others.

Siemens (2002) notes that learner-learner interactions in an e-learning course can be viewed as a four stage continuum:

Communication – People ‘talking,’ discussing
Collaboration – People sharing ideas and working together (occasionally sharing resources) in a loose environment
Cooperation – People doing things together, but each with his or her own purpose
Community – People striving for a common purpose

3. Assessment

In most courses (online and in-campus), most instructors provide a final quiz at the end of their course and a passing score accompanied by a certificate or a grade. This might be a good start but is it enough? Probably not. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic. This way, you can also show students their progress in the course and what they achieved in each step of the way. Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turoff (1996, p. 167) for example say that: “In keeping with a learner-centered approach, assessment should be part of the learning-teaching process, embedded in-class activities and in the interactions between learners and between learners and teachers.”

4. Peering

Findings showed that students and professors use both formal and informal environments often, to optimize learning but online course design is usually not designed to consider informal experiences of the students. In the new networked environments, it may be impractical to define what formal or informal learning is but instructors are now more than ever trying to understand the affordances of each to create effective learning designs (Betül C. Czerkawski, 2016).

5. Contributing

Details of the requirements to participate in a course should be described in the course syllabus. The purpose of collaboration and expectations of the learners should be made very clear to all participants and the teacher have to encourage participation, discussions and collaboration and that this is an important part of the contributions in the course. The group task, deadlines and deliverables should be described in detail, giving students the best opportunity to focus on collaborating to share ideas and the workload rather than leaving them to spend a great deal of time trying to understand expectations from the teacher/course.

Topic 3