Poynter’s First E-Learning Course: A Test of Potentials

As Poynter’s Presidential Scholar, one of my tasks was to look at the viability of e-learning.  This fit within my portfolio of exploring the intersection of journalism, technology and training.  To help me [and Poynter] better understand the potential of online modules, I created one.  A chapter from Chip Scanlan’s textbook, “Reporting and Writing: Basics for the 21st Century” became the course material.

We adapted the text into a e-learning module that ran on the eCollege platform and asked the Poynter’s summer fellows to take the module and share their reaction.

We had three questions:
1. How does one build an effective e learning course?
2. What would be the commitment by the faculty [and others] to present the course?
3. What would be the reaction of the students to an online teaching experience?

I wrote a long memo to various Poynter folks, including Jim Naughton [president] and Karen Dunlap [dean] and included the results of a survey of the 15 summer program students who took the class.

…almost all [80%] said the course material was either effective or somewhat effective. Only one student had a negative response to the material. The effectiveness of the presentation was rated lower, with 60% of the students saying the course was effective or somewhat effective.

Of course, we didn’t have time to hire a designer, so the presentation was basic.

I believe our first online course was a success.

I believe that Poynter should quickly and confidently move to develop a series of online classes.

… I also want to acknowledge the support and enthusiasm of Chip Scanlan for this project.