Saturday, December 6, 2008

Learning 2.0

Was glad to know that Bob's also into online-learning. This is quite an encouragement, especially since I was informed (only a fortnight ago) by the rep of a major local institution that Malaysians still need lots of convincing before they associate 'online education' with 'real' learning.

(That institution, however, has taken a bold step in obtaining exclusive rights to market the U21 Global MBA, the only 100% online MBA program represented at the World MBA Tour at Westin recently).

My own take is that, whilst 'offline' forms of learning should still be provided, for schools to NOT have an online element (or to not begin preparing their students for Web-education) is to act and operate as if the Internet hasn't been invented yet.

Some thoughts on how an e-education should look like (and I'm not excluding theology and Christian education here!):
  • All lessons must be available online (like those of MIT, USQ, Open University, etc.)

  • Lessons must take various forms (text, multi-media, etc.), soaking in all the glory of Web 2.0,  with the implication that Library 2.0 has to appear sooner or later

  • Lecturer and student contribution to the learning should become near indistinguishable and learning takes a cyber-constructive (or connectivist) form i.e. my education 'emerges' from the conversations, the input, the debates, the projects, etc. No connections, no learning.

  • E-discussions and e-collaborations are a central part of assessment - none of that 3-hour do-or-die-in-an-exam-hall crapola! The idea of 'closed-book' assessments must be banished from educational vocabulary once and for all! (except for low-impact formative self-assessments...)

  • The 'system' should allow students to work and learn independently of time and space - one loner on the sandy beaches of Jamaica should be able to team-up with three executives in the concrete jungle of Raffles City. 
What else can/should we add? 

(Note: U21 Global presently offers all the above elements but something tells me we're only scratching the surface here...once the magic of cloud-computing, parallel computing and Web 3.0 really take off, heck, we'll be like fish in outer space).


Bob K said...

I am also aware of some Christian colleges which are offering ministry and vocational oriented programmes via online delivery. While quite a few American colleges that do that tend to take advantage of state exemption from registration hence making their quality somewhat suspect, a substantial number are properly accredited.

Australian colleges have also jumped into this in a big way, for good reason. Correspondence based education has been one of the main methods of extending education to their significantly spread out population. Making the move towards online delivery can only been viewed as natural progression.

There are quite a few methods that I've seen. Many involve direct interaction with the student, with a tutor assigned to the student for direct support and scheduled webinars and video-conferences held. Some are wholly self directed and are mainly assessed via assignments and projects. And many are also opting for a blended approach whereby material is provided both for the student as well as an on-site instructor to facilitate face to face tutorials with a group.

LCCI and the Open College Network in the UK would be examples of examination bodies and content providers using the latter approach.

alwyn said...

yes i've checked out some of the seminaries as a way of moving fwd after my BD. i recall the two problems were:

- non-accreditation
- too expensive
- face-to-face STILL required!

ever thought about setting up an online theological education system for SEA? ;>)

Alex Tang said...

Resources or access to online libraries. That is important. Not just google and wiki stuff.

Bob K said...

Here's one provider that provides a few Australian Vocational Education & Training qualifications on ministry :

Unfortunately their degree level programmes are not accredited.

alwyn said...

u know, when it comes to online libraries, there's still a ways to go before full-adoption. right now i'm familiar with ABSCI (did I get it right?) and a few others, but most folks I know hardly log on.

my gut-feel is that the interface is still too 'techy' and not user-friendly enough.

as for Wiki, whilst I can understand that skepticism, i still think it best represents one of the tenets of open-learning: collaboration and user-definition/validition. soon, 'truth' will become a matter of what the community accepts or vetoes, don't u think? ;>)

Alex Tang said...

The online libraries I am referring to is that of the universities where is are online journals and books.

Wiki is good but is at a popular level. I assume we are talking about eLearning at a recognised academic level.

Bob K said...

Sorry to come back to this topic but I thought the linked post below is worth a look. Its more related to webinars but since online learning does utilise webinars as a tool, the self critical piece definitely rates a mention or two in the "reflectable" index :

alwyn said...

it's already clear from my present program that note a whole lot of folks are keen to log on to Webinars, although the main problem here (IMO) isn't among the 4 that Gilbert identified.

the main problem is the non-stimulating nature of the Webinars so far, plus the fact that it's always on some weekday at 2-3pm (who'sever free on those times?!).

Gilbert's 3 technical small problems should be easily overcome (eventually). i'm not entirely 'with' him on the 'big problem', as I feel that today's education don't have *enough* of fixes and tactics! we're too theory-oriented and long-winded, IMO.

Alex Tang said...

Hi Alwyn,

Gilbert is right on all counts. However, what he did not mention is the mentality and attitude of people designing the webinars and the people teaching/facilitating it.

Webinars tend to be traditional seminars transplanted to the net. We need a new approach to learning that integrates the technologies of the Internet, not 'tinkering' and fixing/updating an old one.

alwyn said...

A new kind of medium needs a new kind of learning/teaching, right? A kind of interactive multi-media based webinar perhaps?

Gilbert seems to be pushing for more *substance* (and less quick-fixes)...the tricky part is how to communicate 'deep'-stuff in a fun way (which doesn't insult the intelligence of the students).

e.g. try doing a Webinar on Justification by faith. assuming that one dude talking and showing slides real-time with a dozen other folks logging on is NOT the way to go, what else can/should be done?

In a word, how can we reduce 'Teacher Talk Time' and yet keep the lessons substant-ial?

Alex Tang said...

That's the 'killer application' question, isn't it?

Leon KJ said...

Killer App? I would be happy to lend my experience and creativity for this great cause.

alwyn said...

in fact, it may be an idea to start of something small w an existing christian education program (say, in one of the churches).

would any one of you know any FOC applications which can used almost asap with an existing syllabus?