Learning communities

Learning communities

One of the main assignments we have left before the end of the semester is to develop a digital learning resource using Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver. I have chosen to create a resource that introduces learners to bumblebees. The goal of this resource is to teach learners how to identify the 12 species that occur in Ireland.

It is important that this resource contain interesting interactive elements, such as buttons that the learner has to click on, or items that they have to drag and drop. Interactive learning materials such as these highlight one of the strongest features of e-learning, which makes it a far more stimulating resource than one which contains just multimedia. Interactivity helps to enrich learning and maintains the learner’s interest. However, designing these materials is another matter entirely.

So over the past week or so, I have been trying to get to grips with Dreamweaver and Flash. I worked through the lab sheets for both, which made the software seem quite straightforward. However, when it came to implementing my own ideas for my proposed resource, I immediately stumbled upon new challenges.

One of the challenges in Dreamweaver was in designing a simple webpage. Dreamweaver uses to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to add style (fonts, colours, and spacing) to web documents. And here I had thought that I had left the troubles of CSS behind with a previous assignment.

However, I am not alone in this. This MA programme is designed to establish a community of inquiry (or a community of practice) amongst all the students. This means that we are a group of people with a common purpose, who are essentially learning from each other.

But these communities of practice do not only apply in formal educational situations. Indeed, as I have only just realised, I am already part of a community of practice on Facebook where I am a member of the Cork comic creators group. This is an interactive group where people share resources, ask questions, and post solutions. Everybody in the group has the opportunity to learn something new from each other every day.

In the MA programme, we have built up a strong community of learners who are all happy to participate online together. The discussion forums on Sulis allow us to ask questions about Dreamweaver to all our classmates and to respond with possible solutions. And one of the biggest advantages about discussing all of this online is that there is a permanent record of all the conversations. So often just scrolling through past messages helps me find a solution to a problem that I’m currently grappling with.

So for the next couple of weeks, I will continue to check the discussion forums for any new pieces of advice. And hopefully, in the meantime I can be of help to some of my classmates too.

Image: www.freeimages.com

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