A eLearning Welcome Note from MOOC expert—Tina Seeling

welcomeIn two previous postings, I reflected on a “mini lecture” video created by Tina Seeling. In these postings I shared some things that we should consider when we are teaching or designing eLearning experiences—not just MOOCs:

The course is about to start from through NovoEd, called Creativity: Music to My Ears. The course starts on April 2nd 2014 and last for six-weeks. The course is designed to explore several factors that stimulate creativity in individuals, teams, and organizations. Click the link above for more information.

Today I would like to reflect on an email that I received from Tina welcoming me to the course.

  • Make sure to welcome your students personally. While it wasn’t a personal email from Tina it was signed, Tina. I don’t know the current enrollment but I hope those numbers are shared. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to send out personal emails to 300k students. For example, Udacity’s holds the Guinness Book of World Records for largest MOOC (see Massive Open Online Course > North America). Their CS101 has had enrollments of over 300,000 students! There are tech options to send these personal emails out but then again Tina could be getting 300k reply’s to her Stanford email address. Automatic reply’s could also be simulated… just a thought.
  • Make sure they have a link to the course. The email had a direct link to the course so that I could click on it and go right to where I need to login for access. I do the same thing with my online students but I also make sure that they understand what to do when they access this space or what they would need to do if they have trouble logging in.
  • Make sure students know when the course officially starts. Her note reminds us when the course officially starts. I do also think it would be helpful to remind them also of the duration. She also denotes the time zone which is helpful considering that students will be accessing the course all around the world.
  • Make sure students know what they can do to prepare. Tina tells us some tips on what we can do now prior to getting started. I do the same thing for my online students and let them know where they can purchase their book, software to download, etc. I even give them a heads up on the first assignment and overall term project so that they can begin thinking about it and asking questions. Tina also shared with us that we should watch two specific videos and even provided us direct links to access them. We need to not make the students jump through hoops with the technology. She could have said log in and find the _____ video on the _____ page. She didn’t. Let’s make it as simple as possible.
  • Make sure students get to know each other in the course. One of the things that Tina suggested, is that we go ahead and setup our course profile with a photo and bio. This will help personalize the experience for us as I assume as we participate in the course we will have easy access to other people’s profiles. I look forward to seeing how this is done in NovoEd. In a previous post, How do students find people to connect with in a MOOC? Do they even need to? I mentioned that as an instructional designer for online courses I am always looking for ways to put the learner at the center of the design and figure out ways to increase their interaction between the content, their peers, and the instructor. By encouraging students to setup profiles we are increasing their connection to the course and other students.
  • Make sure to get students connected in the course. Tina reminds specific groups of students that may have a special code utilize that so that they can connect with other students from their university or groups. Some MOOCs here recently have had more of an advertising goal, e.g., a bMOOC or brand MOOC. This is a way for a school or business to advertise their products and services to thousands. But what about the students already at that university? Wouldn’t it be of value for those students to connect? See each other’s work? Be in groups together?
  • Make sure to invite students to participate. Tina tells us that we should go ahead and start checking out the class forum and tells us to start a conversation with the class. I personally wish there were options to have some of this outside of the classroom, via Twitter but I haven’t seen that yet. But you know what she also made it easy by including a link in the email to help us jump straight into the Forum 🙂 We need to not make the students jump through hoops with the technology. Let’s make it as simple as possible. To be honest this was one of the first things I clicked on.
  • Make sure students invite their friends. Tina also recommended that we mention this to our friends. I do the same thing as my pay for teaching is based on how many students are in the class after the first two weeks. So in the very beginning I do the same thing. She also provided us a direct link that we could share on our social networks as well.

We are all looking forward to the course Tina!



About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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