In August 2008, NKI Distance Education celebrated its online course enrolment number one hundred thousand. At the same time, we developed and introduced NKI’s new online catalogue profiling students, tutors and employees. All 9500 users registered in NKI’s Learning Management Systems have personal presentations which automatically list relevant information about the users and their courses. In addition, most users add a photo and some information about their previous education, work experience and personal interests.
Now, all users can choose to include their presentation in the open catalogue, by clicking the Global visibility checkbox in their user profile. One month after the catalogue was launched; 250 people (2.5 percent of the users) had chosen global visibility. If 10 percent of the users eventually opt for global visibility, the catalogue will include about one thousand personal presentations. This is a significant development which should be of interest to EDEN members for three reasons:
Firstly, it seems like many students appreciate the opportunity to share information about their online course activities with family, friends and colleagues. Others seem to use the presentation as an online CV to support job applications. In any case, most presentations act as favorable personal homepages that focus on the students’ achievements.
Secondly, the catalogue appears to be a valuable resource for NKI. The users are excellent ambassadors for NKI when they share their presentation with others. They provide a lot of relevant information for prospective students and key words for the search engines. All the positive and trustworthy testimonials from current students and teachers will probably have a positive effect on NKI’s future course enrolments.
Thirdly, the fact that so many serious, hard-working and successful students are willing to share achievements and experiences in an open, online catalogue is valuable for the field of online education. Traditionally, distance students tend to be quite invisible compared to other groups of students. They are so dispersed and so busy with their courses, jobs and family obligations that they seldom form action groups or student unions. Online student catalogues may help these students become more visible as a group that deserves more attention.
Even though NKI’s catalogue is in Norwegian, I promise you an interesting surprise if you brows it with Google’s automatic translation service. Maybe EDEN could do something similar for its NAP members?
If you plan to attend the EDEN Research Conference in Paris in October, you can meet one of the students profiled in the catalogue. NKI’s Senior Fellow student Thor Steinsland will discuss his experiences as an online student in a presentation titled: How to manage 28 self-paced courses, three kids and a job in the North Sea.
The automatically generated part of his personal presentation is shown in the picture.