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.


The MOOC: Just the classroom online?

There’s been a lot of fuss about MOOCs, and this article highlights that so many of them are simply traditional education streamed online … so what can be done differently?

Cloud U students could define their own educational paths, deciding what and how they want to learn by purchasing individual courses via an iTunes-like portal, with formats ranging from large, multilayered affairs with online lectures, interactive tutorials and chat sessions to microclasses that would quickly teach very specific skills. Cloud U’s flexibility would also encourage teachers to experiment, tearing down the wall between teaching and research, making students co-creators of knowledge (à la Wikipedia) and opening up teaching opportunities beyond the traditional academic elite.

Read full story.


Online Learning in the Middle East?

Interesting, and often sold as one of the benefits of creating online learning, for those nations unable to afford education, affording global fairness:

Building a world-beating academy, so the argument goes, takes decades, even centuries of meticulous investment in infrastructure, postgraduates and reputation.

But what if you could use the internet to leapfrog this slow and steady process by plugging your students into the best lectures from across the world?

This was the hope of a number of delegates attending a conference on education in the Middle East and North Africa that recently took place in London, particularly those from nations struggling with limited finances, huge numbers of young people and continuing security problems.

Read full article.

Academic Digital

Online Learning: Not Second Class

Excellent piece in the Guardian today about how ‘online learning’ is not ‘second class’, but how it really aids learning in the 21st century:

Image Credit: SXC.HuThat’s something I share in common with my students. They aren’t unusual either. They just choose to study online because the flexibility suits them. Online higher education means students can combine education with employment – often fast-tracking their careers as a result – or fit study around family commitments.

These students don’t pursue online degrees as second best, nor are they students who have somehow been enticed away from traditional universities with promises of a better answer. They choose to study online because it simply works better for them. In most cases, it’s also a far more affordable option than a campus-based degree – and it’s clear that financial factors are increasingly driving higher education choices across the board.

Read full article.


Digital Delivery of Resources in the Developing World

Purchased from iStockphoto

Whilst universities in the UK consider how to survive in “the current economic climate”, digital technology and Open Educational Resources is making a huge contribution to the developing world:

Widening access to higher education is one of the great global challenges of the 21st century. Higher education is the key to creating the educated and skilled workforces that developing countries need to grow their economies and to ensure a better life for their citizens, but existing higher education systems and institutions effectively exclude large numbers of the world’s population.

Given the scale of the demand, it is not logistically or economically feasible to build and staff enough traditional bricks-and-mortar universities to bring one within the reach of every aspiring student in the developing world. So we need to make a radical shift and move away from the current model of higher education, which we have inherited from the 19th and 20th centuries, and towards new systems that reap the benefits of 21st-century technologies.

To get an idea of what the future could be like, we can look at what is already happening. In Africa today, a revolutionary programme called Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (Tessa) has been made possible by the internet. Operated by a consortium of national and international educators, at its core is a bank of teacher education resources, created by a team of specialists and made available online as open educational resources that support teacher learning in the classroom. Tessa has reached more than 400,000 primary school teachers in nine African countries since 2005.

Read the full story.