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ELizabeth 1st to e-learning - four centuries on are we trying to treat everyone like a little princess?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 09:04

The view I have formed during the course of MAODE and now that I am immersed in the perfect pool for e-learning I find that the vastness, and the complexity of the issues, from learning design, to the technology, from course materials to access, the whole gamut of what should or could be done, has been done, rightly or wrongly, and how we respond to current changes (student funding, Internet, global demand for higher education/life-long learning to the highest level) boils down to understanding people.

How and why do people learn?

How is this best achieved?

Always see it, whatever the scale (and there are student cohorts in their thousands on some OU modules), from the perspective of one person and their unique and shifting circumstances, abilities, weaknesses, desires, hopes, technical ability, financial and family situation, geographical location, employment status, mental and health well-being.

It still strikes me that the basic student profile is so limiting in what we are asked to provide, and yet I suspect a few clicks on a drop-down box does influence where we are placed. I know that being on my third and final module is a key reason to allocate me to one group over another, that the desire for this mix of those new to the course and those with more experience is deliberate.

It may suite the OU to have in a group of 16 a split three ways between those on their first, second or third module. Selfishly, it would suit me to be in a tutor group of 'module threes'. We are more alike because of our shared experienced; as like minds we would achieve more. Indeed, I wonder if the needs especially of those on their first module would be better catered for?

A crude marker that assumes mistakenly something about this individuals character and disposition.

I appreciate too, on the other hand, that it could be invasive to go through a heftier profiling process, however, I think such effort would be rewarded and probably show up as improved retention as people's individual circumstances, whether trivial or massive, would be, to some degree at least, accommodated.

An idealist?

Princesses Elizabeth had, in the 16th century, one-to-one tuition, specialists, the best in their field. What she'd learnt dicated by others, preparing her from an early age for what might be expected of her. Four centuries later can something like this not be made possible for many more? All it takes is for someone who knows stuff to spend time with someone who does not.

Above I suggest we need to think harder about the student, as a person, in all their glorious uniqueness.

Perhaps I am saying there are two people in this relationship and it is this failure to respect the importance of them both that is often not met when technology is put between them, not to make this ideal learning relationship possible, but to make any learning at all possible.

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I often think we have lost a lot of the opportunity to become brilliant through being constantly forced to focus on a narrow subject area.  2000 years ago, those who studied, studied a multitude of subjects.  The connections they were able to make from having knowledge in widely varying and distinct subjects were often the source of discovery.  Not from learning one subject inside out, as we seem to be encouraged to do now.  The OU offers the chance to study an array of subject matter, which in itself is promising.  It doesn't allow for cross-course 'idea pollination' though.  There have been a number of times when a whole section of a course has been almost exactly the same as another entirely different course.  When that happens, I wish there was a way for the students on both courses to have a place to discuss the subject matter.  In many cases, the students will be looking at the topic from completely different angles, due to each course having a different aim in presenting the material.  That's where interesting debate could be sparked.  If I want to discuss aspects of my studies, I rarely choose to do so with someone who is also studying the same subject.  Their perspective is pretty much the same as mine.  I will go to someone with interests that lie in an entirely different area.  They are the people who can allow me to learn, and discover things that books and course-specific forums alone cannot do.
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we do but the OU are being rather bashfull about it or don't appreciate that you have to promote something enthusiastically to have any chance of succeeding in this worlid of information overload in which we live - it's called OU Platform.