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RIDE 2020 - part 1

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Yesterday I attended the RIDE 2020 conference (Research and Innovation in Distance Education) at the University of London. I had fully expected the event to be cancelled as the nation is in the grip of (or on the cusp of) the Covid19 epidemic but the organisers decided to go ahead - albeit with a few precautions.

I was so happy to have gone to the event. I met three people who had been fellow MAODE students on various modules. 

Before it even began I found myself in conversation with a few people (networking!). Most attendees were academics and educators so attending as a student made me something of a novelty. One man (I later identified him as David Baume (@David_Baume) asked for my impressions of online learning (as this Masters Degree has been) in comparison with face to face learning (as my Bachelors Degree was). I have a lot to say about online vs face to face learning but I don't feel my own experience is a valid place to begin. I feel my main challenges in studying MAODE have been that it's at a Masters level rather than a Bachelors. Add into the mix the fact that the two a separated by over twenty years and I don't think my impressions are of much value! I later realised that one of the men in this conversation was Alan Tait (@AlanTaite) who was the chair of the whole event.

I took notes - old school - throughout the day and will post the stuff I wrote down! It's not a precis of the day but merely the nuggets which caught my attention!

The opening session was a panel in which three people gave ten minute presentations and then, after all three presentations had been given, the panel took questions. I didn't take copious notes but here's what I wrote:

Dil Sidhu - Coursera

Coursera is a technical platform - NOT a content creator. The intellectual property rights to the content remains with the creator / writer / original institution. (I didn't know this. I wondered if some of the programs we use at work could be added to their suite.)

They have a lot of data - millions of data points - and they use this to 'nudge' people with messages such as '80% of people who complete this activity will go on to complete the programme'. (These nudges are just the sort of thing I enjoy but my friend and colleague said she found them a bit patronising but I can absolutely appreciate)

Allison Littlejohn - UCL

I only made one note about Allison's talk but it was a powerful one - she explained that so often technology enhanced learning had been 'the classroom replicated'. She showed a powerful image of a teacher in a traditional classroom in which every student was represented by a laptop. The message of technology being used to maintain and perpetuate the traditional classroom model was powerful. Surely technology should do more than enable learners to attend class from a remote location?

Neil Morris - Leeds University

The phrase which Neil emphasised was 'unbundled higher education'. Instead of offering a complete degree program universities can now offer all of the elements of this program individually. The learner could theoretically build the degree step by step, or they could extract the learning they needed. This can be 'sold' as a great thing as it offers extended flexibility for the learner but Neil was honest in acknowledging that this system could actually extend inequality as learners might become tiered into those who gained their qualification bit by bit and those who got it all in the 'traditional way.' He also explained the academic concern that fragmentation of the curriculum had far reaching implications and that educators had legitimate concerns as to how this might present issues.

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