Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM

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Programme in Development Management

The Academy goes hi-tech

The courses are currently offered on our local intranet

The courses are currently offered on our local intranet

One of the exciting new developments at the Tata-Dhan Academy—to me as a faculty member, at least—is the addition of a few online courses and online assignments.

To do this, I have been using Moodle, a web-based course management system, to host online discussions and facilitate assignment submissions and exams. I have been using it for three of my courses this term—Managerial Oral Communication, Written Analysis and Communication, and Academic and Professional Writing—and I really have to say thanks to the PDM 8 students who have been very flexible in adapting to the new system. They have been so accommodating, in fact, that when I informally polled them to find out if they preferred a paper-based midterm or a computer-based midterm, the majority of the batch opted for the computer-based exam.

So, how do I use Moodle in my courses? A few ways, actually. Here are some examples:

  • Academic and Professional Writing: This course focuses on a combination of grammar skills and specialized writing skills. Using the online module allows me to develop grammar assignments for which students get immediate performance feedback. Additionally, since the grammar portions are graded automatically, this frees up my time to focus giving more thorough feedback on written assignments which need to be manually assessed. Developing the online assignments takes some time, of course, but hopefully over the course of a few terms of developing question sets, I’ll have a sizeable question data-bank which can be reshuffled and reused in terms to come.
  • Written Analysis and Communication: WAC has traditionally been an “out-of-classroom” course which has always posed some problems for both the students and the faculty. Often, it is helpful if everyone “brainstorms” about our assigned topics before getting to the actual writing, but since the course is not classroom based, there are far too few opportunities to do so. With the new online system, what we’ve done is substituted one of the assignments for online participation in a discussion forum. Each week, students are given discussion prompts related to the forthcoming assignments and generally, there is a lot of lively “discussion” (which the Editorial Committee might one day consolidate and share here on our blog). I would say it’s even more participation than what happens in class sometimes….
  • Managerial Oral Communication: The online offering for MOC is essentially a repository of supplementary course resources and an archive of student work. During this course, students have a lot of opportunities to deliver individual and group presentations. I record these presentations and store them using a Moodle database. If there is a PowerPoint to accompany these presentation, I usually store it in the same database, thus allowing students to do some self-evaluation of their work and their presentation techniques.

Aside from that, it helps the students to develop their computer skills—especially their typing skills. Oh, and did I mention that it makes it really difficult for students to come up with excuses for not submitting assignments on time when they know that, at a pre-established point, all opportunities for submitting their work will be automatically closed…. (And the disciplinarian in me comes out.)

To get an idea about what the system is like, you can check out the Demo Course: Academic and Professional Writing hosted freely online at NineHub. You can log in as a guest, but you won’t get to see much, so feel free to create an account so you can get an idea of what the online tests and assignments look and feel like.

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2 Responses

  1. Ananda Mahto says:

    Of course, not everything works out perfectly….

    We were not too systematic in backing up our first round of online courses, and in the process, lost a significant amount of data when, due to the power irregularities and a non-working UPS, the server was improperly shut down and our database files were corrupted.

    Again, my sincere thanks to the PDM 8 students for being tolerant with me through this learning process!

  2. sumitvij says:

    Ananda,

    Its really sad that Moodle is not working now a days; in fact, I am suffering because of that, because I lost one of my important documents related to our major assignment in our APW course.

    I hope that our technicians can fix it as soon as possible so that we can use this web based course management to our best.

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