Ever wanted to get going on DELTA but felt you were working in a place too inaccessible to get started? Well, you can not possibly be in a more remote part of the world than the Falkland Islands. This is where Lesley lived when she applied to do our on-line DELTA Module One.
Since Cambridge introduced the Modular DELTA more centres are offering on-line options but are these effective? This is Lesley’s story of her on-line DELTA Module One.
Penguins and DELTA Module One
The Falkland Islands are more than 8000 miles from my home in England and from Istanbul where I had very positive memories of doing my CELTA. One day an online update about the DELTA Module One just starting at ITI, Istanbul arrived and I decided to enquire further. A pre-course task and an interview later, I was on the course.
A major worry was accessing research material since, in the Falklands, the internet is frustratingly slow, expensive and unreliable. As to reading, the Islands are great for books if you want to know about penguins or the South Pole but there are no others – indeed there is no bookshop. My solution was to order on-line from the bibliography, aware however, that post is often very slow and that they might arrive after the assignments for which I needed them. As it turned out, I was right!
Signing on to the Moodle for the first time, I was awed by how many people were on the course and the different cities or countries from which they were accessing it. This was reassuring, if they could do it, I could too.
It took a bit of time to get used to the way the course worked with input sessions a solitary affair via the internet, weekly tests to upload, and tasks accomplished by group work via the Moodle. Every week, brought a new task and different CP’s (course participants) to work with. Some were proactive, dividing the task so we took on different parts of it and shared afterwards, other CPs were rarely heard from after the initial “Hello”. I enjoyed my inbox filling up with enquiries, thoughts and additions over the week ready for the Friday morning assignment-upload. It was helpful to read the research presented by all the other groups. This reduced the isolation factor of the Falkland Islands enormously.
After a while I got into the rhythm of the course. Friday was the day for uploading assignments and downloading session notes, following links and saving any helpful articles . Sunday was ‘test day’ when I timed and uploaded my test, wondering how important the midnight deadline was and indeed whose midnight – mine was 7 hours behind! From the start I was impressed by my tutors Sally and Liz and reassured by their quick and positive feedback. Though my initial test results were low, I followed their recommendations and slowly things began to improve.
The downside of an online course is lack of human contact. Sessions are so much more than just the taught material – which is dry in print – no asides, no fillers that help illustrate a point, indeed, no body language or expression that makes a statement funny or memorable. In a taught session CPs share activities, ask questions and add thoughts. I missed this.
An unexpected problem with my isolation was physically sitting the exam. I was half the globe away from my exam centre in Istanbul. Thanks to everyone at ITI who stepped in at this point and organised permission for my papers to be flown to Istanbul then on to the Falkland Islands (via Britain again, of course!). However, an error in Cambridge at the last moment meant that the papers were forgotten. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the exams were faxed to my invigilator at the Falkland Islands Community School just minutes before I was due to sit them. Whilst this added to my anxiety-factor at the time, it shows that anything is possible.
DELTA is hard work but in the long run, the major ingredients required to pass Module One are a lot of determination, a little diligence and a good on-line course like ITI Istanbul’s and these far outweigh the need for books and face to face contact. If you think you are too far away – then think again!
Do you have experiences of studying on-line? Is it effective? Please send you comments.