Sinking and swimming online

One of me in SL

Well I’m still waiting for someone to talk to me. Tumm, te, tumm, umm, … I think I’ll just start talking to myself. Nothing new in that but never done it in text before now πŸ™‚

I was incensed the other day when I read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald that a friend in Twitter put me on to. Yes I know, not the most academic of papers but this is the sort of thing people in general, and some misguided people in HE, are saying. It is just as well to know what you are facing. Here go and read this for yourselves but be warned it will make you angry πŸ™‚ It is entitled “Online study kills uni life”. Thank goodness that a little while later another friend on Twitter alerted me to this smashing piece from “purpos/ed“. This is by Kerry Turner and is about inspiration, innovation and purpose in education.

I couldn’t help but be struck by the contrast between these two pieces. One was completely denigrating online study, the other talking about education and how online study can increase opportunities for learning. The one from Sydney did not understand that the reason the sample (just 12 academics from the whole of NSW) they used was one, too small, two just did the online thing completely wrong and three, obviously had no idea what online learning is trying to achieve. Phew that tired me out just thinking about it πŸ™‚

The piece by Kerry Turner on the other hand clearly demonstrates that good teachers are continually gently pushing, cajoling, setting the bar higher and higher in order to stretch the students and to demonstrate the faith they have in them and the value society places on them. Good teachers use anything they can lay their hands on to support students and encourage them to think and engage with learning even outside the classroom/lecture hall. And that includes online learning. You don’t put your recorded lecture online and just leave it there! If that’s all you’re going to do you may as well not bother. By all means use snippets from the recording, especially the parts that you think students didn’t address well or completely in class. Get them to do some exercises around the points that weren’t covered so well – do the next session online with them (and that means in real-time). The online session could be as long or as short as the students need, especially as they have done work online between the sessions. Always give them something to follow-on with between the online session and the face-2-face one and just like that you have more students in the lecture hall. Well may be not “just ike that” πŸ™‚ But you can see how this could work.

Students don’t have to be in a lecture hall for every session. This way of using online learning not only helps to free-up teaching space but students tend to like it. They like not having to drive 20, 30, 40 miles for a lecture. It saves them money, it helps reduce the load on the transport systems and it helps reduce the University’s carbon foot print.

Oh and another thing – online learning does not kill University life. The full range of technologies available to teachers provides some of the more interpersonal ones to be used for creating and maintaining community cohesion.

Well that feels a little better having go that off my chest. I’ll probably think of soemthing else about this subject to add later.

Oh and I just remembered there was something else I must go and put on Interesting bits πŸ™‚

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About timjohnson
I came through a tortuous path to the role of Adviser in Digital Literacy in the Information and Learning Services Department. In the past I was a: Senior Lecturer in Health Informatics, Senior Lectuer in Midwifery, Midwifery Sister, Staff Midwife, Nurse, Secretary, Bars Manager. I would have liked to be a jeweller and silver smith but of course there is always retirement for that :)

One Response to Sinking and swimming online

  1. Mark Childs says:

    Absolutely. In fact, purely face-to-face doesn’t actually give students enough opportunities to socialise. I’ve done SL sessions with students who have sat in the same class as each other for a couple of years and afterwards they’ll tell me it’s the first time they’ve spoken to each other. Offline education isn’t the goldstandard necessarily. Lecture halls are vast impersonal spaces and they negate the chance for student-to-student communication. Couple that with the imposition on students to take part-time jobs and often FB or even their VLE is the best chance they have to really get to know each other,

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