The Future of Courses?

I had an interesting discussion yesterday with a faculty member who teach automotive mechanics here at the College. Needless to say it’s a hands-on course that doesn’t have a lot of sitting and learning, but a lot of doing. He was struggling to find meaning for the LMS in the context of his course and he found it in the quizzing, which he could use as a pre-test. That got me to thinking about how effective e-learning is for skills-based acquisition where you have to do something to show mastery. The argument he put forth was that you don’t want to have a guy building your house without the proper skills shown, right? Well, the cynic who’s been on a construction site and watched a few Mike Holmes shows, knows that not everyone who’s building your house is accredited with some institution. That’s why we have housing inspectors (who can be bought off). There are though, some things that cannot be replaced by an online interaction. I would however, be OK with someone becoming an electrician and passing the accreditation without being in a class, as there’s an apprenticeship process that requires showing your hands-on ability.

I’ve enrolled in a CSS course, because even though I use those skills fairly often, I feel like I should know more about it. The course cost $10, is organized by a publisher, and has a relatively small enrollment. I’ll write more about it after I’ve gone through it and know more about it. It’s short in duration, only ten sessions, fairly minimalist in instructional design and looks full of little bits and pieces that will help me. I think these sorts of courses will pop up – maybe even in conjunction with higher education institutions. Certainly this is the future of continuing education – where people who need skills upgrading get a package to go through with some minimal instruction. Writing clear, concise, directive instructions will be a key skill for the designers of these courses. There will be others that suggest these small, modular courses don’t provide context for the work – or even more don’t allow for reflective practices. That may be the case, or maybe those things need to be built.