Introducing ODL Snapshots – Interns Blog
My name is Fraser, I’m 22 years old and originally from Aberdeenshire. I am currently going into 4th year of Computer Science with the School of Informatics and although I don’t have plans to immediately go into the computing industry once I graduate, my degree is valuable enough to allow me to venture into my real interest – music technology.
My project involves running a campaign to encourage Online Distance Learning students to share their experience and engage in the ODL community. To do this they will be sending in an audio clip of themselves talking about their experiences, thoughts and feelings on the nature of online studying. They will also be asked to send in a photograph of where they are studying. This audio and image combination will be known as a ‘Snapshot’ and would be posted publically for all ODL students to share and enjoy. This is named so because we also want to capture a ‘snapshot’ of where we currently lie on the ODL spectrum.
My first challenge was trying to understand the ODL system at Edinburgh. This was a fairly simple matter as I could find a lot of information online and I was also supported by a team of colleagues who were well advised on ODL matters and so could answer any questions I had.
I began looking for options of how to manage the project, not only for collecting Snapshots but also for showcasing them. I felt a standalone website would be an efficient way of doing this and so I had a WordPress website set up on a server run by the University. Thankfully WordPress is very user friendly and I was able to quickly set up a site with help from department staff.
Here is the finished website – http://odl-snapshots.is.ed.ac.uk
It’s now a case of getting students involved, which I feel will be the hard part. Often students miss emails from the University or Information Services about extracurricular activities, so to tap into the students I plan to contact the academics, programme directors and student reps to relay on the message and promote the project.
So going forward I will initially be contacting programme directors on a course-by-course basis to convince them that the project is worthwhile to both themselves and their students. I’ll try to contact all courses within a school simultaneously to see if coordination between courses within a single school is possible. This may prove problematic for larger schools such as Medicine and so a different strategy may be employed with the help of contacts within the school.
I’m also seeking to exploit promotion outside of email, such as social media and various school websites and communities. I have already begun tweeting about the project on the Online Learning twitter in the hope of drumming up some attention. Many schools have their own web spaces and I’m looking to advertise the project there as well – such as the Digital Education Hub or Second Life’s Virtual University Of Edinburgh.
Although the task of engaging students who are on the other side of the world may seem like a tricky one, I feel that once the project gets off the ground we will see some interesting results, both in the content of the Snapshots and also in the geographic significance of where they are coming from.
In the meantime, listen to the first Snapshot we received