This report is highly worthwhile - an insightful guide to distance and online learning, through e-learning to current best practice and what we might come to expect.
Some surprises here:
Whatever the web may afford in relation to social networking, do distance learners want this level of interaction ?
Despite what the web offers in terms of content, would students be better off sticking with what is offered to them instead of getting distracted?
Probably. It’s less distracting, and no doubt of a higher quality and relevance. (Makes marking easier too as their is some chance your tutor has read it too).
Open Research Online
This 63 page report is a gem and offers some insights across distance and e-learning from some of the leading OU practioners and thinkers.
Some notes, verbatim:
The value of Open Learning
Free access to re-mixed OU courses is not only providing tens of thousands of users with a valuable resource, and step into a formal OU course, but is a lab for research, experimentation and design in the Web 2.0 World.
A shift towards Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)
Open Research Online offers an extraordinarily insightful chronology and pedagogical reasoning for 'free' online learning which indicates the degree of shift, or substantial fraying of the edges of traditional approaches through a wide variety of tools and their multiple affordances that make learning student-centred, and hopefully engaging, and effective.
Distance Learning no longer needs to be such a solitary affair
'Online learning is often undertaken by an individual in their home or place of work in physical isolation from others studying the same material. Social software that allows these individuals to come together with other learners can play a vital role towards the achievement of the desired learning outcomes.' (p. 25 McAndrew et al, 2009)
Ditch (or repurpose/re-invent, remix text in favour of hat" Podcasts and YouTube?
'Materials on the web should (ideally in many people's views) utilise the capabilities of the web and how people use it. Thus it was (and still is) believed there should be fewer words, more graphics and much more dynamism or interactivity in a highly structured, more resource-based style of pedagogy when authoring courses for the web.' (p. 29 McAndrew et al, 2009)
Content over interaction ... so much for the rise of 'Educational Social Networking.'
'A large choice of content is considered the most important feature of Open Learn and that interacting with other learners is low in this list.' (p. 39 McAndrew et al, 2009)
How easily are you distracted by what the web offers, pushes and invites?
'The Internet is not necessarily Utopian and the support that formal structures offer should not be dismissed too easily. A competition for attention means that users can be distracted from their intended purpose and that chance encounters with information may be an unsatisfactory solution in comparison with targeted offerings that constrain and direct interests towards specific goals.' (p. 4 McAndrew et al, 2009)
McAndrew, P; Santos, A; Lane, A.; Godwin, S.; Okada, A.; Wilson, T.; Connolly, T.; Ferreira, G., Buckingham Shum, S.; Bretts, J and Webb, R (2009) OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008. The Open University, Milton Keynes, England.