Finding participants (How difficult can it be?)

May 13, 2011

Is it possible to make a course for busy people?

How difficult can it be finding participants for a new innovative on-line course?  I thought it would be a breeze but I was proven to be very wrong.  I reckon my first problem was believing that my snapshot of a course was innovative.   When you finish creating a new course you feel very proud of what you have achieved and tend to not be as critical as you perhaps should.  The more I step away from the course the more I see changes that need to be made.  However I view it as a template which can be adjusted depending on my students needs.  I firmly believe that it needs to be flexible and will only work if it adopts a learner-centred approach which takes into consideration sociocultural factors.  I think this is exciting as instead of following a book I can develop tasks around my students and cater for their interests.  At the moment I’m still trying to confirm participants to take part in the course and assist with my research project.  Initially I contacted my friends in Japan as I believed they fitted the bill for my course.  I was looking for busy office workers who would not have the time or energy to attend an English classroom but had the enthusiasm and drive to practice English. Living in a context where English is not used, it is very difficult for them to continue to learn English and develop fluency. I think that learning over the internet can make this possible and that the advancement of mobile learning means that English can be learnt on the move at a time which is convenient for the learner.  I sent out several e.mails emphasising that this course would be flexible to their needs and stated that it would cater for people with busy lifestyles.  With this in mind I was very disheartened when I only received a couple of replies that said they were too busy to take part.  Since then I have contacted ELT friends who have been very supportive and have also tried to spread the word and used their contacts from previous jobs teaching English around the world to try to find some willing participants.  Again nothing happened and I was starting to panic.  Luckily this panic subsided once I was introduced to Elizabeth who has been unbelievably helpful in gathering me some very enthusiastic German students.  I recently interviewed some over Skype and I started to feel that the my research could actually go ahead.   It seems that the dissertation will be full of ups and downs and I need to accept that this is all part of the process.


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