Competencies and OER considerations

In December I was given an opportunity to work on a project that involves developing a checklist of instructor competencies for e-learning.  This kind of project has the appearance of being simple, since checklists are purposefully simple after all.  But delving into the world of instructors, competencies, and e-learning is an onion with many layers, and one that engages a bit of an internal struggle.  The administrator-by-day part of me welcomes this project since it will have an immediate, tangible benefit to the people I work with and have a mandate to support.  If done well, it will help with planning, managing, and evaluating some of our activities.  It can communicate expectations that are the responsibility of both instructors and the institution to fill.

The academic part of me bristles at the idea of online instructors being distilled into a list of competencies that will somehow speak to the diversity of learning contexts, student needs, teaching and  learning approaches, and technologies that inform e-learning.  I’d like this checklist to somehow be flexible to the above, but still be usable. This is the challenge I’m currently faced with and have yet to resolve.

Nonetheless, the research phase of this project lead me to a few gems, which I’ll continue to share.  My favourite by far is E-Learning Methodologies:  A guide for designing and developing e-learning courses produced by the FAO in Rome. It’s a huge pdf, but anybody starting out in the field would be well served by reading this visually pleasing, informative, and well designed document.  In fact, if a pdf could be a MOOC, this would be it. The document description reads:

The purpose of this guide is to provide detailed guidance on designing and developing an e-learning course for trainers and instructional designers who are new to e-learning design. It also provides basic concepts and information on the processes and resources involved in e-learning development, which might be of interest to capacity-development managers. The information in this guide is based on consolidated instructional design models and learning theories and incorporates FAO’s experience in delivering e-learning courses in development contexts…

What I particularly liked about this guide was the attention paid to OERs, which  should now be a standard chapter in any guide on e-learning design.  In fact, in my research it was only 1 of 2 documents that considered locating, reusing, or creating OERs as a skill or competency for instructors or e-learning developers.  This is an obvious gap in both institutional expectations and expectations of the field in general.


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