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A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 5 Oct 2012, 23:07

A forum is not a tutorial, yet it aspires to be so.

The tutor is afforded no more privileges than any other contributor, democratic, but hardly giving them the attributes or affordances of the 'chair.' (Although I’m sure they have some useful control and buttons behind the scenes!)

A tutorial works best one-to-one (like therapy), face-to-face, or in a small group, say six at most, discussing in an synchronous environment.

(James Turner, Policy Director at the Sutton Trust suggested supplementary tutoring of school students one-to-one was most common, two-to-one worked even better because of the collaboratory experience. BBC Radio 4 10.00 Tuesday 7th September 2010, Accessed again 16.00 Saturday 12th September 2010)

You get a cue from the tutor to speak or contribute while body language and human politeness typically results in each person making contributions. Often the person who says nothing for long spells has the most insightful contribution because they have been listening.

I respect the person who says nothing the most – they have the most to say.

Twelve or more is a class. This is an e-classroom.

Easy to define as such, just consider the numbers.

I have taught classes of forty+ in secondary schools and taken ‘classes’ of sixty (with assistance) in an eight lane swimming pool. Numbers mean something, one to one is perfection, with two to one you lose nothing (and academics suggest you probably gain).

Moving up from this ... a tutor group in the real world might be six.

No surprises when things don’t work so well, whatever the affordances, or excuses of asynchronous learning/messaging when there are groups of twelve or more.

Asynchronous forums are not a listening environment, nor due to the limitations of an OU Forums affordances and attributes does in foster the kind of discussion you'd have in real life.

A suggested improvement would be:

1) Put the tutor in the chair and have this position reflected in the layout of and the way message 'tumble' into the forum.

2) Compress or concertina all messages by an individual so that the 'weight' of their message, either the frequency of contribution or length is not given prominence. i.e. the short, infrequent post has equal weight with the more verbose or frequent contribution. This mimics real life.

3) To make all things equal the images files and silhouettes are reduced in size, to a pinpoint if necessary. Their only relevance is to identify who is speaking or who spoke, in which case our names would do. I’d just as happily pick a character icon from the Monopoly or Cludo, my gender, face, mood at the time of the picture etc: are not only irrelevant but they are probably counter to my usual stern disposition.

4) Use something like Harvard's 'Rotisserie' system, deploy games and other events tactically i.e hosts/tutors and other strategically deployed postgraduate and/or PhD students are invited in from time to time to make a contribution.

Some suggestions. Some ideas.

 

 

 

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Neil Anderson, Friday, 10 Sep 2010, 16:36)
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Design Museum

OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2009

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 00:57

Open%2520Learn%25202006%2520to%25202008.JPG

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 ?

Apparently not.


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)

REFERENCE

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.

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