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About the TIE Design Log

Page history last edited by David Richardson 7 years, 4 months ago

About this Design Log


This design log is intended as a running 'commentary' on the process of creating two courses (with a total of three groups on them): the Teaching in English course (which has the LnU Course Code 1EN124); and the Using English as the Language of Instruction course (whose Course Code is 1EN11U).


I'm going to try to record as much of what goes on here as possible for colleagues to use as source material. I'm also going to try to stick to the WP2 Framework document as much as I can during this design process.




When we were in Vienna I checked with my bosses about whether we could run a Linnaeus University course aimed at university teachers who need to improve their skills in delivering their specialist subjects in English, rather than their native language. The funding for this course would be entirely separate from the funding of the Euroversity project as a whole, since each 'external' student represents a sum of Swedish taxpayers' money paid to our university. Here are the initial considerations from Section 1.1 of the Framework:


    • What kind of students/learners is the course/learning event aiming at? For example, if you want to reach learners who are geographically scattered and can't attend a face-to-face course, an online course may be your best option.
    • What do these students/learners hope to achieve by taking this course?
    • What are the general aims of the course?
    • Are there specific constraints and expectations of funding and/or host institutions?
    • What is the benefit to offer the course you are planning as online course instead of a face-to-face course? For example, virtual environments may help introverted students to improve their participation. In language courses, interaction during tasks can benefit from more spontaneous exchanges as virtual environments can be used to replicate real life experiences where learners may have to deal with unexpected situations.
    • Have you researched existing courses in the same subject area in other institutions and/or your own? What is the added value of the course you are planning compared with existing face-to-face courses and other online courses?


In the case of 1EN124, the answers to these questions are largely determined by the answer to the first one: "geographically-scattered and can't attend a face-to-face course". However, since this course is designed to have 5 credits of practice and 2.5 credits of theory (these credits correspond to European Credits in the ECTS system), it's also clear that the questions about the benefit of offering the course on line are important: not only can we overcome people's reluctance to speak a foreign language in front of other people, we can also use virtual environments (such as lecture halls, seminar rooms and laboratories) much more easily in SL than we can IRL (teleporting goes much quicker than traipsing from place to place).


After the initial permission we had to go through a process of getting the syllabus approved and then getting the course on to the applications website (http://universityadmissions.se) in time for students across Europe to apply for it (their cut-off date was 15th January, 2013). The deadline for approval of the syllabus was 18th September, 2012 and the course was put out on the international applications website by early November. Currently the course is also on the internal Swedish applications website (http://antagning.se) for the application period of 15th March, 2013 to 15th April, 2013.




Later, the university decided to create an exactly-similar course for our own teachers, which is being funded out of central university funds. We decided to make this course a virtual 'clone' of 1EN124 in order to facilitate planning, course design, and course construction and delivery. For this course we're planning on two groups: one nominally in Kalmar and the other nominally in Växjö (although an online course in a virtual environments doesn't really have a geographical setting IRL). I've been allocated 285 hours to deliver these two courses to groups not exceeding 20 participants in size.


Virtual World Design Parameters


The WP2 Framework then asks the following questions about the use of a virtual world environment in particular:


    • Does the course include a face-to-face component, or is it to take place exclusively in a virtual world environment? Have you identified the competencies which are better developed while using an online course and those that would preferably benefit from a face-to-face environment?
    • Are there any prior experiences with the course in a face-to-face or any other setting? Has it ever been tried and tested in a VW environment? Are there any similarities or differences between the different course/learning event formats?
    • Do you have access to relevant content materials to be used, reused or adapted to fit different formats? Are there any chances of the course being given again or materials being reused by other colleagues?
    • Do you have enough or adequate technical resources/technical personnel to assist in setting up and running the course? And, in case self-access and/or peer to peer, in-world learning activities are planned, are technical staff available with advanced 3D platform-specific know-how to create environments / objects that can make up for unavailable teaching functions.
    • Do you have access to adequate VW venues for delivering a 3D course?
    • Will you need the use of moderators and/or team leaders in the course?
    • Will it be necessary to pre-train participants in VW use?


This is where it starts getting interesting! 1EN124 can't include an IRL component by its very nature; 1EN11U will … but that's largely because of personal choice, rather than being a necessary component of the course. There are other considerations to take into account with 1EN11U, such as disseminating the idea of online courses in general within the LnU faculty and introducing faculty to experience of working in a virtual world. An IRL meeting at the end of the course is then seen as a way of 'cementing' the lessons learned by studying in this environment - and perhaps also propagating the idea of using virtual worlds for other types of courses too.


Another important consideration is inducting colleagues in the English Group at Linnaeus University into teaching in Second Life. Another important design consideration is to design a course which could be taught (in part) by less-experienced colleagues, but which could also be taught by me alone, if there should be problems persuading colleagues to join in!


This course has also been delivered IRL in the past too (although this was about 4 years ago). Moreover, several of the activities on the course will use techniques developed both for IRL courses and for LnU's Business Talking course which has been running entirely in Second Life each term since Spring 2008. Thus the second set of questions above will also be answered.


We have the use of Kamimo Island - and I'm counting on help from colleagues with other specialist environments, such as labs and clinics. Which specific 'extra' environments we use will depend on the subject specialisms of the people who'll be on the course. We also have the services of our IT Technician/Teacher, who was also one of the first students to take the Business Talking course in 2008 (i.e. he has prior experience of the SL environment) and (I hope) help from other partners in the Euroversity Project.


The last three questions will also be dealt with as the design log expands.


What Happens Now


As things happen in the design process, I will add separate pages to this folder. There are also various documents which will be added separately (such as the syllabus and the planning documents).






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