December 10, 2007

Too much of an online thing?

Writing about web page http://media.www.thecurrentonline.com/media/storage/paper304/news/2007/08/27/Opinions/I.Could.Have.Gone.To.The.University.Of.Phoenix-2938507.shtml

Here’s a fascinating article by a student at the University of Missouri at St Louis in the US. Money quote:-

This semester, 75 percent of my classes are online and 100 percent of that is not by choice. There are classes which are only offered online and if I want my degree, I have to take these classes. I did not come to UMSL to stay at home and take classes. I came to this university to be part of a university.

Food for thought as we mull over more and better ways to digitise the audio and video from an event and make it available for download.


- 10 comments by 5 or more people Not publicly viewable

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. Leighton Joskey

    You can easily see how it might be difficult to put the brakes on a delivery mechanism that is so efficient and cost effective – why lecture to 100 students when you can do it to 1000 simultaneously.

    Can equally see how rubbish it could be for the students though, even if a percentage would be happy to stay in bed and get it online later….

    Is there a valid comparison with live gigs? You can get a lot from a good video of it, but you can’t get nearly everything.

    10 Dec 2007, 15:40

  2. Steven Carpenter

    Achieving the right balance is important. One way to use video and audio is to think of ways they might supplement existing provision, rather than simply replacing it – that way we maximise the benefits of both approaches. Imagine for instance a set of videos that provide more detail on a topic covered in a lecture, or the concept of ‘prepcasts’ where the lecturer provides audio material for consumption before a lecture. The Medical School Clinical Skills Video project for instance has used the medium to offer new ‘layers’ of learning via alternative commentary, which would have been difficult to achieve by other means.

    10 Dec 2007, 21:23

  3. John Dale

    I think you’re right that it’s about supplementing or augmenting rather than replacing. But there’s an interesting point tucked away in there about how people can have different goals; we may think that video and audio are augmentary tools, but a pressed-for-time lecturer may well see them as a convenient way to give fewer lectures.

    11 Dec 2007, 09:22

  4. Steven Carpenter

    True enough, but if you’re suggesting that they see it as a way to replace lectures so that they can concentrate on other things, I honestly haven’t seen that at Warwick. Replacing lectures with other models to improve the learning experience is however a different and more positive rationale, and it’s the potential uses of audio and video to facilitate this that we’re seeing interest. The EEE course in WMG purposefully replaced lectures with other modes of learning with significant success, and the online learning environment that has grown to support this alternative model is maturing well – the course team is always carefully considering additional modes of support (including video and audio) to help their students understand the concepts involved and be more autonomous about their learning.

    I remember a lecturer telling me a while ago that when challenged by a student engaged in a peer-review exercise that “he is paid to mark our work, not us”, he replied “No, I am paid to help you learn”.

    11 Dec 2007, 21:32

  5. What’s interesting here is not necessarily the fact of online course delivery but the removal of choice.

    Look at it this way. If the existence of Amazon meant that you were never again allowed to buy a book from a physical shop then you’d be pretty pissed off. It could be the same here. The frustration is not with the delivery of courses online but that there is no other option.

    Whilst the digital environment promises infinite choice what is actually happening in the case referenced above is a restriction of choice. Warwick takes a very sensible approach in my view with this – augmentation, support and enhancement rather than replacement.

    13 Dec 2007, 12:15

  6. And what would happen to a course which was accessed far more using remote means than on-campus? Won’t there be pressure to remove the on-campus facility, to cut costs?

    External constraints on traffic growth may make Warwick university’s appetite for expansion impossible to meet if most of the new course content is delivered on-campus.

    15 Dec 2007, 14:29

  7. Robert O'Toole

    A more relevant question for Warwick would be: what future is there for the traditional information-transfer lecture?

    In the Arts Faculty, my impression is that they are becoming less common. Lectures seem to be becoming more interactive, rather like large seminars. Where traditional lectures are still being delivered, there is some evidence from focus groups that the students would rather listen to a recording, with the lecture itself replaced by more (or better) seminar time.

    I’m also finding that core modules with large numbers of students are being taught by a team of academics (this happens in History and English). Each academic gives a small sub-series of lectures, or even just a single lecture in which they are specialised. The lecture series varies each year, as different academics are available. Therefore if we record such lectures, we can make the full range of experts available to the students every year. That’s just one of the many cases in which recording lectures adds significant value. There are more.

    17 Dec 2007, 14:01

  8. Occasionally a motive for a student to attend a lecture might be to meet someone.

    Some people have trouble motivating themselves without an external stimulus, for such people attendance at a lecture does mean an hour’s more work on the subject than they would otherwise perform.

    Nevertheless, audio does have the advantages over conventional lectures of not clashing with other events (an important point for many part timers), of allowing the student to repeat parts which he/she finds more difficult and of involving no transport. Text has the same advantages.

    17 Dec 2007, 17:35

  9. John Dale

    Where traditional lectures are still being delivered, there is some evidence from focus groups that the students would rather listen to a recording…

    That’s an interesting and provocative assertion, Rob. Do you have any more detail about this evidence?

    19 Dec 2007, 13:30

  10. “I remember a lecturer telling me a while ago that when challenged by a student engaged in a peer-review exercise that “he is paid to mark our work, not us”, he replied “No, I am paid to help you learn”.”

    Sometimes good direct feedback (marking or crits if you are doing a more creative course such as architecture / art etc. ) to a student is the best thing it is also the most expensive thing. F”F is pricey.

    Online work should enhance and improve upon the educational experience. If it can help the F2F experience be more productive then that’s fine. There is a danger of economically driven models rather than educationally added value models coming to predominate. Not ‘bums on seats’ but mouse clicks per course will soon be a metric benchmark. Individuals need individual attention. Peer group marking thing can be useful up to a point but the danger is of it becoming a core tool in the massification of courses.

    Lectures and other sorts of media are fine but it is the outcomes of that such as creative discussion spontaneous groups which meet in the bar / cafe afterwards are the qualitative outcomes which are almost impossible to measure but enhance learning experiences. Soft outcomes perhaps but important ones just the same. Perhaps that is at the root of the original compliant from the US student?

    09 Jan 2008, 19:33


Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

Search this blog

Tags

Blog archive

Loading…

Most recent comments

  • I'm looking for two authors/books from the 1970s or early 80s. The first was set in England. All I r… by Leo on this entry
  • I'm looking for two authors/books from the 1970s or early 80s. The first was set in England. All I r… by Leo on this entry
  • I am trying to find a book about a grandfather who tells his grandson that if he imagines hard enoug… by hilary woolf on this entry
  • Hi Looking for a series of books in which the main character was a knight. The knight was either a f… by Ely McKenna on this entry
  • I'm trying to track down my favourite children's book from the early 1970s (pub. 1970 – 1973?) about… by Ally Holloway on this entry
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder
© MMXXI