April 06, 2005

Argument for shifting emphasis of e–learning development work

Writing about web page http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/events/shock2005/

This is first potentially controversial argument that I will present as part of the Shock of the Old conference.

1. There is increased pressure on students to be successful (degree costs), so they are less prepared to take risks with uncertain study methods – currently this is much more obvious with international students;
2. Students often ask for definitive knowledge transfer (lecture notes) – a low risk solution; sometimes, they resort to plagiarism;
3. But top-level higher education is supposed to be about the student learning how to construct their own answers, with a creative research-based methodology;
4. And furthermore, it deals with complex and cutting-edge knowledge that can be difficult to summarize definitively, and which changes often;
5. Academics will not be able to, and may not want to, do much more work to extend their teaching if that involves the development of online learning activities that attempt to definitively capture their teaching.

Implications: a move away from lecturer/content focussed e-learning development. With more emphasis placed upon technologies that support the student’s own processes.

6. So we tell the students that they must be research-oriented, independent and creative learners;
7. But they are rarely equipped with such skills from school (A-level mentality), and are only taught them implicitly in the undergraduate (and graduate) curriculum;
8. Students are increasingly end-product oriented, do not understand the importance of the process that leads them to the end-product;
9. Hence this must be countered by teaching the best possible and demonstrably effective study, research, thinking and writing skills;
10. In a way that interests, engages and excites the students;
11. Matched with the best available technology to support those activities;
12. In fact the provision of new technology may help to make these skills more attractive to the students, if we can create good enough technologies that really engage them.

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