When Is A Course Not A Course?
Mention the word “course” in an educational environment, and what is it that normally comes to peoples’ minds? In all likelihood, it involves reading documents, watching videos, submitting homework assignments, completing projects, taking tests, responding to surveys, and maybe somewhere down the line, gaining a certificate or diploma—something to formally acknowledge satisfactory completion of those weeks of work. The Extension Foundation’s online course system, campus.extension.org–a Moodle learning management system–does a remarkable job of delivering such packages of resources and activities. And in Moodle or any other learning management system, this is called a “course.”
But what if all you need for your Extension program is the delivery of just one or two of these resources and activities? Is that a “course?” Well, if you use Moodle to deliver them, yes it is. Take any combination of any number of learning resources and activities and package them for organized delivery, and it is still called a course—in Moodle.
I bring this up because Extension educators are finding many creative ways to deliver courses through Campus, where those courses are very limited in scope. For example, one course on Campus is comprised of a collection of videos about judging horses. There are no tests, no course requirements; just this collection of videos for people to view as few or as many as they want. Why use Moodle to present them? Because Moodle provides a way to track participation, control access to the course, charge a fee, and even gather feedback through customer satisfaction evaluations or surveys.
What about a webinar or recording of a webinar? Might you want to collect demographic information from the participants? How about offering a certificate or a badge for having successfully passed a test on the content of the webinar? Might you want to open a chat room or online forum to discuss the webinar after it is over? Could there possibly be other resources or activities you’d like to make available to participants? And, did I mention that maybe you want to charge a fee for participation—or not?
The point is that Campus is a tool available for any Extension Educator who works for an Extension Foundation member institution (extension.org/current). You do not need a whole “typical” course to offer a course on Campus—just some learning resources or activities that you would like to make available to your audiences. Campus allows you make your courses as complex or as simple as needed.