The Trials and Triumphs of Adapting a Tertiary Face-to-face course to Online Distance Mode

Hazel Owen


The boundaries between social enterprise and the private sector are blurring; as such, it is fundamental that there are increased opportunities for education, communication, collaboration and networking. To this end, flexible, personalised training and education opportunities need to be designed in accessible online formats, although there are some caveats. This paper, after exploring relevant current literature, describes stage one of a small-scale pilot research study which aimed to guage the influence of affective and external factors on the participants of an online distance Governance course, as well as to evaluate the design and implementation. The course had been adapted from face-to-face because many Not-For-Profit managers and front-line employees were finding it a challenge to attend face-to-face classroom-based professional development courses.

Participant evaluation of the online distance mode was reasonably positive in particular with reference to being involved in new ways of learning, and sharing knowledge and experiences. This was in spite of a range of frustrations around access and communication. Mobility and flexibility of learning were identified as important, and participants indicated they appreciated being able to access the sessions and resources from anywhere with a computer and connectivity. The facilitator reported increased levels of stress, but suggested that this was in part due to having to learn different ways of designing a programme, as well as with interacting with and guiding students.
A discussion of the findings from this study highlights some recommendations for other institutions considering adapting existing face-to-face courses to an online mode.

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