A look behind the scenes at CABLE, our online learning environment

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By Roddy Munro, eLearning Instructional Designer

18 February 2016

You’ll all be familiar with CABLE, the CA Blended Learning Environment, as it forms a crucial part of some courses and is an essential study resource for others.

Here, eLearning Instructional Designer Roddy Munro gives you a peep behind the scenes at CABLE.

How is the content created?

It depends on whether it’s new content or if we’re just updating an existing module.

If it’s a new module, the starting point is always the tutor’s course notes. However, we don’t just reproduce the notes online – that wouldn’t bring any additional value to the student.

The tutor will have a good idea about what they want to pull out from the notes. It could be something students find particularly difficult or something that needs more explanation.

We talk through the next steps with the tutors. Some know exactly how they want to present the information and others will work with us to develop some ideas. The CABLE team will help them to think about how the information should be presented and then we’ll create a storyboard to work from.

Every module is different because the subjects differ enormously. For example, Principles of Auditing and Reporting (PAR) has lots of narrative, whereas Financial Accounting (FA) has more calculations and needs more worked examples.

We’re also keen to keep on improving everything about CABLE and to make the learning process as good as possible, as engaging and, even enjoyable.

The basic structure is that we use narrated slides, but round that we build other stuff such as quizzes, videos and interactions.

There are thousands of things you can do in an e-learning environment, and we try to work out what’s best for the students. We try to make the modules as engaging and easy to absorb as possible. We’re working on improving things all the time.

If we’re updating existing content, it’s a much more straightforward process of editing and amending our existing modules based on the newest version of the notes.

Do you track what students do on CABLE?

We do have an extensive ability to track what people do when they’re on CABLE, but we don’t monitor it. We don’t watch what people do. At the end of the day, this is a resource to help business professionals to get the qualifications they want.  Individuals with different learning styles will use the resources to different extents and we encourage that.  Besides, remaining on a web page for longer doesn't mean you have worked any harder than another student who has been more focuses or utilised their paper notes for that topic.

It is our plan to make greater use in the future of the analytics available to us to improve how we do things.

What do people talk about on the discussion boards?

Most of the questions are subject-specific. You can’t post details of questions contained within tests or mock exams (these should be sent direct to the relevant tutor), but you can ask anything else. We find that students are often happy to help their colleagues out if they know the answer.

If you come to CABLE with a question in mind, you’re probably not alone and it’s always worth looking to see if someone has already asked – and answered – the same question.

We are really pleased to seeing more and more students jumping in to get involved in discussions.

When should students get in touch?

If you’ve tried to find the answer in the relevant modules and by asking on the discussion boards but you still need more help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We aim to respond as quickly as we can and always within a day during the week.

If it’s a subject-specific question we’ll pass it on to the most appropriate tutor. We’re aware of the course calendar so we know when there’s a cohort likely to be studying similar topics on CABLE then we’ll be extra vigilant.

If it’s about CABLE, we’ll deal with it as quickly as we can. We check and test every module before it goes live, but occasionally something slips through. Wee don’t mind it if students point out any errors or omissions. I’d rather that we can correct something as quickly as possible.

Has CABLE evolved?

Yes, it’s an ongoing process. We’re constantly looking to see what we could be doing better. In the last couple of years, we have added a calendar function for workload planning, the notification panel to alert students to news, tutor messages and discussion board posts, as well as the completion percentage data to show the student progress through each subject.

We’ve tried to give CABLE much more of a social media feel, with things such as personal profiles. In many respects, online learning is just as good as a classroom experience. However, there is the potential for people to feel isolated. We try our hardest to make students feel like they’re not on their own by encouraging students to ask for help when they need it.

What’s in the future for CABLE?

We’re also keen to keep on improving everything about CABLE and to make the learning process as good as possible, as engaging and, even enjoyable. We would like to ensure that pass rates are maintained and, hopefully, improve due to the quality of content and convenience of delivery. We also want to ensure that we can deliver every aspect of our courses via mobile devices.

Student feedback is an important part of this process and many of the changes we’ve made in the past have been based on your feedback. So if you’ve got any suggestions or ideas please drop us a line at cable@icas.com.

Ultimately, though, we’d love to be in a position where we are innovating even more than we do already – that we become real pioneers in the e-learning field.

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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