Thinking about what I have read, and heard and my own views and ideas I would say that in HE more than in any other educational institution we should really look into an adequate, effective net pedagogy.
For this blog I decided to combine the three questions that we were asked as Week 2 activity and recount one episode of a conversation I myself had with our University admin. We need an entire transformation of the way we do our net learning – whether it is totally online or blended. A year or so ago, I was contacted by one of our University administrators and I was asked, “Hey we need to get into the world of online learning. What shall we do?” After which I asked, “So what is the primary reason? Why should University should go online?” And the reply was – typical – I would say: “because we do not want to be left behind”.
Which in essence is equivalent to ‘ Since everybody is doing it – then so should we”. And that is the position of admin – which might to some extent be comprehensible. Competition is tough and one should keep up with the challenge. So I am fine with that. What I am not fine with is the next step. Which means that inevitably there is the question – “Ok, can we do this in 3-6months?” To which I gape and say – “what go online i.e. make an online presence as a UNIVERSITY in 3-6 months?” I shrug and go on: “Yeah sure if you have someone with a great deal of experience such as those guys we see from some of the best HE institutions in the Australia, UK, US and Canada – and even then I am sure that you will need a substantial amount of time, effort and resources to produce something which is effective – possibly being successful”.
But how do you convince people that teaching over the net involves an entirely different pedagogical approach than in any other ‘lecture’ setting?
How do you get your institution to get to a different model? Well that is a very difficult concept I would say owing to the complexity of the issue we are discussing. First of all, one has to assume that everyone in the said institution is embracing a pedagogy which is not tantamount to the ‘sage on the stage’.
In my institution, I am conscious that many academics are not even aware of a different pedagogy than that which they have been used to experiences all their lives. So much for the 21st century learner! So when it comes to switching to the net… how do you convince people that slapping a PowerPoint presentation into the MOODLE VLE does not exactly mean online learning? – that does not exactly mean anything at all really – given a presentation with a number of slides, containing chunks of text that one cannot really connect with.
And for this reason it is important I think that we need to show how the good people are using the net – not as a source of information but more in terms of helping people – learners use the net to make connections. Connections between people, between experts, between colleagues, but also connections with the information, connecting data in a context that makes sense. So the tools that need to be used and the applications that can be exploited really depends on the learning outcomes that one sets.
Therefore as a first advice to those wishing to start off on the net I would say, that the institution needs to be broken into smaller segments, whereby a team of learning designers, would be able to work with developers, content experts, multimedia artists to bring together communities for learning and in learning rather than simply offering content in an e-version. As I always keep saying – when we go for e-Learning, we need first and foremost to concentrate on the learning and the learner because if we want success we have to concentrate on the human connections.