WOU workshop on developing course materials for ODL

About 18 staff from the four Academic Schools and the Educational Technology and Publishing Unit of Wawasan Open University attended a nine-day training workshop for the in-house Certificate Course on Open and Distance Learning (ODL), which ended on June 29.

Academic and academic support staff attend the training.

Academic and academic support staff attend the training.

The three course modules of training focused on Designing ODL Materials, ODL Instructional Design, and on Use and Integration of Media. They were conducted by Dr David Murphy, a veteran distance educator and Visiting Fellow, at the WOU main campus. The modules are part of the seven modules of training developed by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

For Designing ODL Materials, Dr Murphy looked into topics like instructional design and curriculum development; identifying target audience and writing aims and objectives; developing a study guide; learner support systems; and managing materials development production and distribution.

On the subject of ODL Instructional Design, he facilitated discussions on how to create ODL materials for learning. He covered areas on planning an ODL course and writing a unit of learning for standalone materials and OER; writing for the web; language, writing style and layout; and quality assurance system.

Jasmine Emmanuel writes on the board during the hands-on group exercise.

Jasmine Emmanuel writes on the board during the hands-on group exercise.

The participants were divided into small groups to get first-hand practical knowledge on how to write specific instructions for particular student types of WOU. They also looked at what questions to reflect upon when reviewing course materials, so that the final product is reader-friendly, engaging, and accomplishes its learning objectives. The groups also presented a topic each, which enabled the more experienced colleagues to work with newer staff members in developing necessary skills.

The final module by Dr Murphy related to Use and Integration Media. This included media applications; identification of OER media materials and its integration; issues in distance delivery; and learner support systems. He examined the use of the web and Internet in ODL, with a focus on Moodle as WOU’s learning management system. Each participant was tasked to locate an effective online, copyright-free teaching resource to share with others.

Dr Murphy.

Dr Murphy.

The sessions were highly interactive as Dr Murphy led the participants to connect with related distance education experts in the field via Skype. In particular, Prof Jim Taylor from Australia spoke about OER University, Prof Terry Anderson from Canada answered questions about his article on the three generations of distance learning, and Prof Martin Waller from the United Kingdom shared his enthusiasm for educational technology in general and OER in particular.

The in-house training workshops offering the seven modules are organised by WOU’s Human Resource Department for the university’s academic and academic support staff, with a certificate issued upon completion.