#LTHEchat 130 One solution to online learning? think again.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

David Smith, Australia @djs2206

With the miniaturisation of computing and the availability of technologies much has been anticipated about the affordances that technology would bring to daily and corporate living, conquering aspects such as distance and providing opportunity irrespective of class. Education was part of that encompassing view, particularly in extending its outreach but also in changing the teaching landscape promising an approach that attended to the needs of the student, personalising education that up till this point was the prerogative of in class/on campus scenarios.

The launch of the online environment bypassed the various challenges of the postal service by transferring the practice of disseminating course booklets in paper form to an electronic delivery, incorporating a more immediate human transaction with a lecturer or tutor. Interaction between teacher and student is part of that pedagogical process that deepens the co-investment in education between the learner and the institution, develops a trust relationship in the community of learning practice and inspires a depth of thinking to enhance the learning process. Yet the university online delivery ranges from the pdf version of those same course notes to a formula driven electronic learning platform with little space for innovation.

It is understood that to ensure a quality online teaching experience, universities need to assure that there is a teaching delivery system that can be utilised by lecturers and students alike. However, the problem develops where the university promising quality assurance in its online teaching manufactures a formula driven pedagogy that might address elements such as student engagement, student interaction and teacher presence but does institute a level of sameness in all teaching deliveries.

There is I suggest a fundamental flaw in the approach to the pedagogy of online teaching which is focusing on making the online experience the same as an on-campus class rather than the engagement of the student in the learning process. This on-campus thinking can also distract lecturers, students and the wider community from fully embracing the greater potential of the online platform.  Continuing on the ideas raised by Kebritchi et al., in examining the content and the structure of its delivery, online educational content developers and lecturers should consider creating a new environment for their learners rather than trying to mimic a face to face classroom. These environments could expand on the forums, blogs and videos currently fostered by learning management systems to include but not be limited to technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and social media. Whilst incorporating such technologies are not without challenges the learning experience would surely be advantaged where learners are able to fully immerse themselves in a learning experience.

Kebritchi, M., Lipschuetz, A., & Santiague, L. (2017). Issues and challenges for teaching successful online courses in higher education: A literature review. Journal of Educational Technology Systems46(1), 4-29.

Associate Professor David Smith

Associate Professor David Smith is a learning strategist with a PhD in the field of eLearning from Newcastle University in Australia. He has developed a broad expertise in education through his work in schools and universities.

David consults on online course development and teaching in the Higher Learning sector in the United Kingdom and Western Europe and is a recognised expert in online learning for the open education network. David’s current role is Head of the School of Education at Charles Sturt University which is responsible for on campus and online delivery of subjects in initial teacher and postgraduate degrees.

David is currently investigating two elements of online learning, learning design and online assessment. In online learning design David has developed a different approach to learning pedagogy called the ‘Confluence of Learning (COL)’. David has also developed a mobile app called TfOIL (Technology for Online Interactive Learning) which assists lecturers to select appropriate technology. TfOIL is currently the subject of presentations and publications and is being used in several overseas universities. David is also researching the use of online visualization software and how that could be used to enhance the quality of online learning.

Link to the wakelet: https://wakelet.com/wake/3bbac7c2-0c86-48c6-a789-c93ae9eb2d20

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