Online Learning Advice via Tony Bates and other experts

May 2, 2011

I’ll quote the part that represents Tony’s difference of opinion with the overall study summary:

“Although I agree strongly with the importance of design, I’m not sure I agree with playing down the importance of technology. In my view, the technology, and especially web 2.0 technologies, are potential game changers. What makes the difference is the shift in power: web 2.0 technologies give learners as equal if not better access to learning technologies as instructors, and thus more control over their learning. True, if instructors don’t take advantage of this, things may not appear to be changing, but in the end, if instructors and institutions do not adapt and respond appropriately to this technology shift, they will lose control.”

I fully agree that institutions need to incorporate all that’s right about informal learning or they will become less and less relevant to the overall learning picture.

Here’s the link:

And I also believe that the education system needs to ensure that kids/young adults leave the system with good strategies for finding information, evaluating it, thinking critically etc.

Stuff I’ve said before but perhaps it’s time to say it again 🙂

And a recent article by David Parry on what he calls “Mobile Literacy” (I like the concept but almost wish there was another name for it as we’ve had so many ‘literacies’ I suspect people are getting tired of them ) does a good job of addressing the education system’s responsibilities regarding ensuring students are aware of factors involved in information access, hyperconnectedness, and sense of space via mobile devices. Link:

M-Learning and “Catching up”

September 3, 2010

I thank Tony Bates once again for pointing me to what’s up-to-date in my field.

This time it’s the Australian-based Distance Education journal special edition on distance education and mobile learning. It’s not open source, but fortunately my university has access to it as part of the online collection. I’ve only just started reading this issue, but I know I’ll want to explore it fully.

As Bates suggests, the editorial article, Distance education and mobile learning: Catching up, taking stock,  by J. Traxler, is an overview that compares theory-based traditional distance education to the highly informal “individual unstructured learning driven by curiosity or necessity”.

When thinking about the current hum of technological change and it’s impact on education, I often wonder if theory will be able to catch up.

Traxler describes other articles in the journal — some describing specific projects, issues in developing parts of the world, etc.  Any theoretical basis to “cover” what mobile is all about will have to span a range of cultures and address the varying reasons why education exists. It’s truly huge!

Anyway, this post is a break from my series of postings (chapter by chapter) as I read through the Veletsianos book, but, as can so often happen, a parallel train of thought has overtaken me. I may find myself blogging about both the Australian Journal and the Athabasca book over the next few weeks.

Innovate or die

June 29, 2010

Just a copy of my comment to Tony Bates’ recent posting on  innovation in education.

He references several recent articles discussing crises in education  (funding, concerns about whether online education is an effective solution, etc.)

The articles do talk about human capital and critical thinking but I’d like to see more on how this relates to the new ways we can connect.

Here’s my reply:

Hmmm… I can’t help but wonder if we’re seeing enough about the *purpose* of education in the thinking represented by the references mentioned.

Your statement from OECD about universities and colleges “preparing their students in such a way that students can foster innovation in the workplace when they leave” (and in my opinion this should include k-12 as well) begins to hint at this.  But I’d like to hear more about critical thinking, citizenship, quality of life, etc… things that go beyond the workplace.

To me this idea opens up the topic of informal learning. The innovation required might be described as finally coming to grips with the fact that content AND personal support is ‘out there’ and not necessarily ‘in the academic institution’ and therefore the academic institutional focus needs to shift. Maybe the educational goal should be to work with learners to help them acquire ways of finding, evaluating and making effective use of information and also help them to learn how to form social media connections that will assist learning and focus it to specific areas of interest. Then the institutions could have a role in evaluating how the learning is taking place so learners can gain credentials and move forward in life.

Innovate or die doesn’t seem to be too extreme of a concept to me.  I can visualize a day in the not-too-distant future when what is known about a person’s contributions via social media will be more important than any degree. Employers are already looking there as well as at resumes, aren’t they?

Flexibility and relevancy?

June 7, 2010

Tony Bates is giving input to a committee this week and he’s asking for ideas (not that he doesn’t have a lot of his own ideas already). But here’s our chance to contribute:

I’ve basically been away from computers for a week (a conscious vacation decision to limit access and really take a break — I kept up with family via Facebook on an iPod touch and that was about it).

I’m glad I’m back in time to comment for Tony though. I referenced Sir Ken Robinson because I believe relevancy is key. And I fully agree with Bates on the idea that flexibility is crucial as well and that government funding structures have to be modified to support the fact that learning doesn’t just take place in classrooms anymore.

“digital divide in education goes beyond the issue of access to technology”

April 28, 2010

Through my blog browsing (in this case, Tony Bates’ e-learning and distance education resources site) I have found information about a book published within the past week or so from the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (2010) Are the New Millenium Learners Making the Grade? Paris: OECD

I did a bit of exploring of the parts of the book that are freely available online (seems to be actually most of the book), and learned that the second digital divide (deeper than the issue of access – which is rapidly fading as a concern) refers to students who may appear to be “savvy” with technology but who, in fact, are not “critical and creative users of technology”.  This may not seem particularly new (lots of us have speculated about this) but what is truly interesting is that the report is highly research-based which gives a credibility to conclusions such as:

  • 7. ICT familiarity matters for educational performance… differences associated with the length of time students have been using a computer remain once socio-economic background is accounted for
  • 8. There is a stronger correlation between educational performance and frequency of computer use at home than at school.

and policy implications such as:

  • 4. Adopt holistic policy approaches to ICT in education
  • 5. Adapt school learning environments…. students should be able to locate and use a computer at any time, according to the particular needs of their individual and team assignments…. governments should provide the conditions for them to flourish and should assess their effects.

Let’s hope that policy makers look at this very closely.