Face time with students in the digital age @Kevin_Fong

Image from Apple.com

Image from Apple.com

Contact time, contact time, contact time – v interesting from Kevin Fong.

Now we all know that contact hours aren’t everything. Even the Quality Assurance Agency folk point out that they are but one element in the assessment of the quality of a course. And they are very clear that “contact” can take many forms. Lectures obviously qualify, but field trips, seminars and tutorials – even dance classes are offered up as acceptable alternative forms of contact time. Contact can also be virtual and still count. You get credit for emailing, and I guess texting or possibly even tweeting students.

There is – at present – no universally agreed currency exchange rate for this metric. How many tweets are equivalent to an email? How many emails make a lecture? But increasingly it appears that contact time is the commodity that students most prize in their evaluation of a course.

Read full article… and love the way it finishes:

 It offers the tantalising possibility of achieving that nirvana, sought universally by all of academia, since the dawn of academic time itself: contact with undergraduate students without the need for actual contact.

The Online Classroom?



This looks like a really interesting piece, which I’d like to read in full… but I suspect of interest to a lot of people working in e-learning particularly:

The time comes for most teachers to face something they think they cannot do. Such a time came for me in 1993, when a guest speaker at the college where I had been teaching for 20 years invited the faculty to prepare courses for our then-developing online education programme. Given the enormous advances in technology and the internet, he explained, digital culture would soon reshape and revitalise higher education.

Students would have open access to scholarship. Discussion boards would simulate classroom conversations. Lecture videos would enable students to watch and listen from home, as often as necessary, to absorb, understand and review material. Overcrowding and high costs would no longer prevent access to classes that students required or desired. Everyone, he promised, would connect with teachers through the power of technology. A new day was dawning.

Read full piece, with a really interesting finish:

Although I see the potential value of the virtual campus, and will continue with great enthusiasm to teach at least one online course per semester, I am persuaded that for the time being the place where I do my best work is in the traditional classroom. For me, there remains no substitute for the force and beauty of the feelings I experience within its familiar confines. I also know that the real joy of education for teachers and students alike lies in its ongoing, expansive character. Whatever the format that inspires it, finding ways to broaden and refine our vision of the world will always be the truest gift of learning.

Lectures Still of Value?



Really interested in the debates about teaching styles, especially re: lectures:

By the 1970s, educational scholar Donald Bligh had written one of the first comprehensive reviews of the research evidence about teaching in higher education, a book titled What’s the Use of Lectures? It was comprehensively damning. Although there are a number of pedagogic systems that almost every research study has found to be more effective than the conventional alternatives, for the lecture-based approach the reverse is true.

More than 700 studies have confirmed that lectures are less effective than a wide range of methods for achieving almost every educational goal you can think of. Even for the straightforward objective of transmitting factual information, they are no better than a host of alternatives, including private reading. Moreover, lectures inspire students less than other methods, and lead to less study afterwards.

Read full story.

[BOOK REVIEW] Digital Dieting

14746_digital_dieting_by_tara_brabazonThis looks like an interesting read:

That’s the ideal, anyway. In her book Digital Dieting, Tara Brabazon highlights how precarious this model of learning has suddenly become in the aftermath of the post-1980s technological revolution. (Before that, all lecturers had to worry about was the introduction of the printing press, making dictation by candlelight unnecessary, and forcing them to raise their game a bit when actually interacting with students.) If you want to feel frustrated and anxious in equal measure, read this book’s introduction, which includes extracts of student emails sent to Brabazon in the course of her work and which she carefully analyses. It is clear in reading these spurious essay excuses, cheeky requests for editing services and frankly lazy demands for bullet-point summaries of complex subject matter that education has become as commoditised as it is possible to be, enabled all too often by university administrators keen to force lecturers to use clunky and frustrating multimedia delivery tools in the name of progress.

Read full review.

MOOCs: Adding Value?

Source: The New Inquiry

Source: The New Inquiry

There once was a conference … on MOOCs (#Klaxon):

He told Times Higher Education that improving the quality of online tuition could be one way to make savings in countries such as Germany that have less private university funding.

“We don’t have tuition fees or any large private institutions – but we still have the same drivers: the German government needs to save money, institutions need to save money.”

He added that German universities should move towards a “blended” teaching model mixing online and campus undergraduate study to cut costs.

But he warned: “Going to a blended system is going to be a challenge for the instructors…because German faculty do not necessarily adapt to new technologies quickly.”

Read full story, including how large numbers of students in Africa are signing up for MOOCs, largely in French.