I have started by reading the using online technologies article and am only page 5 and I’m already struck with the thought that this is what this course is all about. I remember seeing a map of where all the participants of this course come from and eventually I located it on the distributed activities page:
I think the heading for the map identifies one of the difficulties of open online classes. However the use of audio and video options as discussed in this course can certainly make distance seem a lot less, especially for someone sitting in New Zealand where our holidays and seasons are so different from those of you in the USA!!!
The benefits of open classes is that it internationalises learning. An example from this course is the discussions on enforcing copyright which is definitely an international exercise these days. It was interesting comparing the USA view on copyright and the Internet with the laws here in New Zealand. In this age of globalisation of knowledge, I think it is important to work together, learn from other countries and to see how our various qualifications fit into the international scene especially as here in New Zealand, a lot of our tertiary graduates head overseas to experience the wider world. For these graduates to make the most of their New Zealand qualifications, they need to know their knowledge will fit with working in another country, and it is also important for employers in those other countries to have a feel for how our qualifications fit in with their own local knowledge requirements.
Open classes also allow for courses containing small numbers of officially enrolled students to have a more meaningful course, one which has diverse opinions available to enrich discussions and this was illustrated in the above reading where the officially enrolled students numbered 8 but there were another 42 students who were interested. I think it is perfectly okay for students to pursue a course for interest rather than for formal qualifications – this is what life long learning is all about. One of the reasons I enrolled in this course was because I didn’t have to feel pressured to finish it if I wasn’t able to (a course running over a year is a huge time commitment for me at the moment), however there was a weekly structure to keep me on track (okay, so that didn’t work too well seeing I am in catchup mode but at least catchup mode is okay when there is no formal qualification structure to follow) which would encourage me to work on this course weekly.
I like the idea of using the web to enhance my classes and I have seen the advantage of these enhancements with this course. I may be behind, but I can still access all the resources as though I was doing the course ‘on time’ whereas if it was a strict face to face class, I would have missed too much of the knowledge and discussions to successfully complete the course.
I am aware of how the courses I am currently teaching keep having the tutor contact hours reduced while the total course hours remain the same. When I did the BIT as a student, all courses had 5 hours a week allocated for classes and another 5 hours a week was left up to us to do readings, exercises and assignments. Now these courses still require a total of 10 hours a week student time, but only have 3 or 4 hours a week timetabled with a tutor in the classroom, requiring students to do more independent work themselves. And this is where some students start struggling – with their time management and ability to even work independently on their courses. Also, in our programme, each course runs once a year and for the majority of courses there is only 1 timeslot allocated for each class making if difficult for those students doing courses at multiple levels, who start in the second semester, or who have work or family commitments. It also makes it difficult when students are absent from class (eg through illness or jury service).
Different students learn in different ways, so a tutor led class may not meet their learning style, or they may just not have understood something and want to revisit it. All of these reasons lead me to believe the ability to add videos and audio to my class would be a bonus. I also like the idea of the flipped classroom – requiring students to review material before class and using the class time for discussions and exercises. As this semester has been progressing, I am thinking that this is definitely the way to go. It just requires time to set it all up properly! That is my new challenge.
I like the way the blog has been used as the central point of this course. It makes it easier to write what I want to, add media as I want to and add links to other websites and articles as I find them. I have been using this blog for MY purposes, to document MY thoughts and MY progress and have been adding links so I can come back here and find things. I still have to work on using tags to make it easier to move around and I keep forgetting to add the ‘read more’ tags so less of each post is showing and therefore I have more posts showing on each page. But that is the learning I am taking, this is MY space. By writing this, I can see that the documentation is mainly for MY purpose, but as it is freely available on the Internet, MY thoughts, comments and insights are available to others if they want to read them – that is their choice not MINE. Blogs, and maybe online resources as a whole is about who owns the information and who is responsible for it – ME and not the tutor!