Friday, May 22, 2009

Study workload and other obstacles for students

I was asked to have look at Estimating student workload, readability and implications for student learning and progression It got me thinking: what if we had required great thinkers like Einstein to have a couple of doctorates, ie have written a bucket load of acadmic stuff, before we listened to their ideas? It would have held the world back - no relativity theory, no decipherement of cuniform, no discovery of Troy, no continental drift theory...until someone had published or studied enough gained the right to comment came up with the same ideas. So why do some institutions require their students to do X amount of work before they issue a qualification. Even in competency based training I have come across trainers who wanted proof that students had worked through the course material they had! This is often given as a reason for putting learning material inside a learning management system - so you can see the student's use of the course.

Instead of workload quantity what should count is a student's
  • understanding of key principles and concepts
  • their ability to apply their knowledge and skills to real world problems
  • their ability to reflect on, share and transfer their knowledge and skills to others through writing, demonstrations and other media
How they got there is unimportant, as long as their way of learning worked for them.

Excessive workloads = stress and/or boredom which tends to course non-completion, which is a sad waste for the student who was originally motivated enough to enrol.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

University 2.0

What would I want to see from a univerity of the future:
  • being able to work with an advisor to design my own course of study/qualification to meet my unique learning goals
  • a learning mentor who would help me find the resources and experience I would need to achieve my learning goals.
  • a learning mentor who could help keep me motivated with plenty of feedback on how I was progressing towards my learning goals
Those learning resources and experiences would not necessarily have to be web based. They could be within my own community, stuff within my own work and life. They could be people I should meet and network with. They could be must read books or videos. It might even include a short, to the point, talk from an expert.

Being self-directed (supported with mentoring and feedback) and not based in scheduled class-room based experiences wouldn't take from the validity of the learning. Learning outcomes could still be assessed and validated. The learning could be benchmarked against that achieved by individuals with similar goals and interests.

What would matter was whether I was doing the training for interest or a future job. If for interest then the opinions of other experts in that field would matter, re my learning outcomes. If for a job then the opinions of those who might buy my skills would be important.

Reasons for doing such learning would therefore be:

  • access to knowledge experts
  • access to learning support to help acheive learning goals
  • validating knowledge acquired against accepted levels in that field of interest (maybe for reasons of self worth or standing within a specific group)
  • making yourself more employable

If you didn't need any of the above then you'll just continue to learn on your own.

Moving back from edublogs

Well I started in blogger and now I'm back. My edublogs site was either getting hacked or edublogs itself was putting advertising on my site so here I am. I'll miss my worpress template but at least here I'll be able to use embed code (videos and the like)