I actually don’t know anyone who teaches continuous entry or open enrollment courses on-line, they all teach paced on-line courses. The course I will be teaching is also paced. As a result, in order to find out what I needed to know, I turned to the internet community. Interestingly a google search returned very little. Maybe this is a parallel experience to being in a continous enrollment course?
A blog by an ESL educator in an open enrollment face to face course suggested having students be clear about course goals and having one student who had already been in the course mentor another.
An article by Yates (2008) outlined the issues in face to face language classes in Australia and stated that students liked the flexibility, teachers found it difficult to cope with but that overall it was a good strategy for this group. “Criticisms centre on the significant interruptions caused to classes as teachers bring new students up to speed, the almost inevitable disruption to classroom climate and dynamics, as well as the headache of planning class activities for a constantly changing cohort.”
Bates (2010) suggested a clear structure, schedule and opportunities to meet other students. He also proposed waiting until a set number of students wanted to join so that they could be a smaller cohort going through the course. In that way social cohesion could be encouraged and discussions would benefit from more than one voice.
Paris and Turner (1995) talked about how choice, control, collaboration, challenge and consquences can be used to motivate learners.
Digital tools such as voice thread could be used, in this people actually discuss what they think verbally and then others can join in and comment asynchronously (brokansky.com). Blogging using word press is another way to reach outside the LMS as is using social media such as Twitter.
I then turned to the professional literature and did a search for articles. Again little turned up, Chau et al. 2013 discussed how threaded discussions, a beloved tool of on-line educators may not be as useful as hoped for and tended to leave people in the exploration phase of discovery.
I also asked students in a recent class I taught face to face, how many had taken an on-line course and what they thought of the experience. Some were in continuous enrollment courses and cited their busy lives and lack of obligation as being barriers to the experience. This suggested to me that they weren’t adequately socially connected in the course.
I also looked to see what other people who are taking this course said. No-one in my cohort has yet posted which again seems to parallel the experience of being in continuous intake! I did look at a previous post by chaque who referenced a blog in 2015
The ideas Ron Smith discussed such as having a small cohort start together, discussions and prompt response to emails as well as using peer feedback were useful suggestions.
I still wonder how effective continuous intake can be at building social communities of inquiry. I see the clear downsides and how isolating it could be for students and instructors!