We are a small charity delivering accredited undergraduate programmes for healthcare professionals through a blended learning approach.
Following the procurement of a new virtual learning environment (VLE) in June 2015, existing eLearning materials hard-coded in the legacy VLE needed to be converted into shareable content objects (SCOs) (Bohl et al., 2002) to import into the new VLE. Faced with a challenging timeframe before launch of the new VLE in October 2015, the organisation needed to increase resources to support the transition.
The solution was to:
- connect with local universities to recruit a team of student volunteers.
- collaborate with the volunteers to convert the eLearning.
- create portable eLearning using students as producers.
Two students were recruited from Coventry University and two from the University of Warwick to convert four of our Open University accredited online modules (three 30 CATS, one 15 CATS).
Each student volunteer was responsible for recreating an eLearning course consisting of 6-8 sections, using the rapid authoring tool nimble®Author (https://elearning247.com/nimble/), and working in collaboration with the education lead for their module (a practising clinical expert) and the in-house eLearning team.
The first student volunteer started a few weeks before the others, quickly mastered the authoring tool and created an in-house style guide, which the three remaining volunteers used. Despite the limited time available, all four courses were successfully transformed to user-friendly SCORM-compliant eLearning and are currently in use by student cohorts on the new VLE.
Connecting and collaborating with students to create our repurposed eLearning proved to be rewarding and mutually beneficial. Our approach reflected the Student as Producer paradigm (Neary and Winn, 2009), which recognises that students and teachers have much to learn from one another through close collaboration. As observed by Montesinos et al. (2013), interacting with students brought a freshness to the organisation. In addition, the digital skills of the team of ‘digital natives’ (Prensky, 2001) complemented our pedagogical approach, which combines evidence-based instructional design with enhancements from student feedback. In return, the student volunteers gained experience in learning design and evidence of employability skills. All four expressed a sense of satisfaction and reward from the creative process.
Currently (March 2016) the first cohorts of students on the new VLE are approaching the end of their courses. Their feedback will be incorporated into the project evaluation.
Moving forward, the organisation is now offering a year-long student internship with our eLearning team, in a move to continue with this highly successful connect, collaborate, create approach.
Bohl, O. et al. (2002) In International Conference on Computers in Education, 2002. Proceedings, pp. 950–951.
Montesinos, I. A. et al. (2013) In: Student engagement: Identity, motivation and community. Libri Publishing, Farringdon, pp. 109-124.
Neary, M. and Winn, J. (2009) In: The future of higher education: policy, pedagogy and the student experience. Continuum, London, pp. 192-210.
Prensky, M. (2001) On the Horizon, 9(5), pp. 1–6.