So there’s a new MA on the block from London School of Theology. It’s advertised as
Beyond applied theology – the MA in Integrative Theology (MAiTh) can either be accessed and completed online worldwide or studied full or part-time on campus in London – what ever suits your lifestyle or needs better.
As I was looking at this, whilst thinking about how CODEC develops an appropriate MA, and whether it should be fully online/offline, and as the debate about MOOCs (and other assorted acronyms) continues, it’s interesting to see what other institutions are doing.
The recent JISC Learning and Teaching Experts session fed back information on research into what student expectations are of digital provision, a rather more updated version of something I spoke about in 2010 (5000+ views). What do people want/need to get out of (formal) learning? And that does need to be the core question and focus, rather than “how do we use this snazzy technology” which can be a legitimate focus in preparation, but not in defining the learning objectives. As my book indicated, at the end of the day, people are still human beings, with needs as adapted by culture and context, but essentially arriving in this world with similar needs and desires as they have for many years.
As I wrote in a PGCLTHE assignment:
We expect increasing numbers of students who are living at home, part-time, mature, or from overseas. Students will expect better access to online courses, and a more flexible approach to learning, with ‘pick-and-mix’degrees and opportunities to gain vocational experience through university-private-sector partnerships.
It’s interesting that LST is offering this in a blended way, and it will be interesting to see if a sense of community develops between those meeting face-to-face (which does always change the dynamics (and I love), but is not necessarily a ‘better’ means of connection) and those online, or if separate communities will develop. Last year JISC, in speaking about the use of technology as part of face-to-face teaching (where there’s a lot of emphasis on “contact hours” as meaning face-to-face):
“As the student body becomes more diverse, so institutions need to find ways to ensure that their teaching modes and materials reflect different learning preferences and types of study and attendance. Technology offers a range of ways to do this and to enhance student access to resources and staff both inside and outside university owned systems.”
There are many different learning styles. Many institutions have moved from chalk and talk/sage on the stage to guide on the side, and there’s definitely an extrovert bent to much teaching (get people chatting), but in a conversation with a colleague this morning, I mentioned that I love the group dynamic (as written about in another assignment)/relationship building/sharing knowledge (whether that is online or offline, and I have some idea of the focus of the topic), whereas she would rather be given the topic and sent off to research it. I have always thought that if the right framework is provided (online or offline), and the students are prepared to come in fully enthusiastic .. that’s the first ingredients towards success.
I like the fact that LST are offering this in a range of styles, and I’m looking forward to hearing how it works in practice (and wonder what their VLE looks like). At #ECSM14, I heard from Jon Dron about ‘The Landing’ – his institution is (I think 100%) distance learning (even most of the staff largely are), and how they sought to provide the social side of learning that many desire.