"At the OU, we like to think (rightly) that we have a good understanding of how to construct print based, distance learning educational materials - tutorials in print - supported by a network of personal tutors and online forums.
"But I'm not so sure that we - or anyone else for that matter - has really got to grips with developing pedagogically sound, compelling and engaging online delivery models.
"So here's where I'm stuck at at the moment:
- "Training" people how to add data to maps, create timelines, etc etc is important and something we should be doing. Why? I don't know - maybe because it's a useful online communication skill?
- Using interactive maps etc. is a way of encouraging learners to explore.... errr... explore what, I'm not exactly sure.
- Embedding audio and video in online material breaks up the text and makes use of the medium. It allows learners to hear real voices, see real people. But is that important. Do I need to see Professor XYZ talking about whatever, when I can just read their paper? Or does rich media content break the flow of study (i.e. break the flow of reading print on-screen... Or maybe I printed everyhting off and I'm reading it on paper?)"
But I really don't see an alternative. Our best bet is to get a whole bunch of tools out there, let people use, reuse, and mash them together, and see what bubbles to the top. Sometimes we create a tool for one purpose, only to find out it is perfectly suited to something else. To me, that is where things get exciting.