Delivering online learning

I’ve had my attention brought to the Thirty Day Challenge, a free month long online course on internet direct marketing. Now, it’s not a subject I am particularly interested in, but I am interested in how the information is disseminated on the course. It seems to be mainly through flat HTML pages for each day of the course which  are chock full of video content, a supporting blog and a forum for participants to have a natter.

This seems a fairly simple way of doing things, I guess people pick up each day’s content through RSS or email, follow the video and text content, then try and put it into action. You might get people coming in halfway through, say, which might mess things up – and how would you present the content after the initial course has finished? Traditional blog reverse-chronological would mean that people hit the last section first.

Maybe one way of using a blog would be to run the course on a regular basis, signing up people to specific start dates and password protecting posts, so those with a password for a section can access it. Maybe this is just complicating things though…

The alternative would be to set something up in a system like Moodle, which is an open source virtual learning environment, which lets you set up proper courses for people to follow. This way you get to properly structure each segment of the courses, and can ensure people properly progress through each stage. I have been having a little play with Moodle recently, and while it clearly has some great features, it seems to be to be rivaling Drupal in the ‘bitch to set up’ stakes, and the end results do look a little, well, dated.

Another way of doing things would be to make the learning synchronous and make everyone be there at the same time for a Webex style session, sharing the screen with those taking part. There are obvious problems here for fixing a time people can make, and it also turns it into a much more formal affair.

Does anyone else have any ideas on how online courses could be presented, split into sections delivered on a daily or weekly basis?