“A liberally educated person meets new ideas with curiosity and fascination.
An illiberally educated person meets new ideas with fear.”
— James B. Stockdale
As if there wasn’t enough for me to do at the moment, what with preparations for heading off on the Churchill Fellowship, I’m now enrolled in an Elearning course jointly run by my school and Lisa Dawley from Boise State University. Actually, its pretty intriguing stuff and immensely useful (not to mention pertinent to my research) but the timing is putrid. And there is aso the risk of me running away in terror at the thought of more articles to read. I mean, I can only change my thinking just so much in a short period of time!
Anyway, kvetching and anxiety aside, I’ve had time to explore Edutopia’s ‘The Brave New Breakthrough of Online Learning’ and ‘Going Virtual – Unique needs and Challenges of K-12 Online Teachers.’ and found much of interest. The first online resource makes a clear case for the necessity, validity and effectiveness of online courses whether they are delivered in entirely virtual schools or supplementary programs in ‘bricks & mortar’ schools. A wake-up call was the reminder that teachers both in physical and virtual schools need a significant paradigm shift from thinking about ‘what you are going to teach and how’ to a model that has its focus on what the kids are or are not learning. Teachers know this. We try this. We forget this. Well, I do from time to time. So, some questions arise from this –
- How do we make sure that online learning does not become a showcase for our own creativity but rather a vehicle to allow our students’ creativity to shine? (A revealling question, it must be said!)
The greatest challenges raised are how do we promote collaboration and also supply emotional support at a distance?
- What do distance education experts, who have been teaching this was as their bread and butter for years, have to say about these areas, I wonder? Have they been consulted?
‘Going Virtual’ raised more questions, not the least of which being the fact that the conclusions are drawn from a relatively small set of sample data in which not all respondents answered every item. Virtual world learning is personally very appealing – I’ve been doing it for over 4 years in Quest Atlantis with some degree of success however, there are legitimate concerns about student’s time management and the integrity of assessment.
- How can we know that a task was actually completed by the student in question?
The following additional questions arose from my reading of the report. They are of interest to the content of my Churchill Fellowship proposal.
- Why are teachers less interested in developing their skills in facilitating better peer review and student self-evaluation of tasks?
- Why are virtual world teachers not inclined to see online safety as a reportable concern for their future professional development?
- Why is there is a direct correlation between a disinterest in developing online communities for learners and the length of time a teacher has been teaching?
So there are my questions (in italics above) Anyone able to help me with them?