[LINK] the net, higher ed, and change

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Thu Jun 11 12:38:52 EST 2009

At 08:06 AM 11/06/2009, Jan Whitaker wrote:

Universities are not about someone standing at the front of the room
just reciting facts.

Greeting from the Australian National University ANU Festival of
Teaching now on in Canberra
<http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2009/06/festival-of-teaching.html>. Henry
Gardner is demonstrating some applications of graphical programming for
both art, such as in computer games, and in science, such as visualising
the flight pattern of bats. He showed examples using the Processing, an
open source Java based programming language.

I announced last year I was not giving any more lectures at the
Australian National University

This found its way into the Unkiversity, as an example of Lecture 2.0:

It did not cause as much comment from my colleagues as I expected. Some
were confused, thinking I meant I was giving up educating, as they
equated giving lectures. I was cheered at the University of Canberra.
Most people reserved judgement, waiting to see how it went.

At this point I did not quite know what I was going to do instead of
lectures, but I knew it would involve the web.

The ACS then asked me to design a Green ICT course using the Moodle 
Learning Management system

What was more important than the software were the teaching techniques
pioneered by Dr. David Lindley, Academic Principal of ACS Education.
See: "Computer Professional Education using Mentored and Collaborative
Online Learning", David Lindley, IJCIM Special Issues on e-learning,
Vol.15 No. SP4, November, 2007:

David's approach is to have the educator and coach. The students are
given materials and the guided through it. The e-learning materials look
low tech, with what are essentially text based lecture notes, without
the lectures. Readings are online (and printed) books and journals. To
provide an incentive, the students assessment is partly based on their
discussion in online forums: if they do not discuss, they fail.

ANU selected Moodle in late 2008 and I helped pilot it in a course in
first semester 2009 using Moodle to supplement traditional lectures and
labs. At the same time I was also tutoring the first class of Green ICT
students in the ACS course using Moodle. It was curious using the same
tool in two very different environments.

At ANU I attempted to use the lecture slots to give presentations more
like seminars and less like lectures. However, this was constrained by
the traditional lecture theatres, the student's expectations and my
attempt to steer a middle course. My conclusion was that this approach
of supplementing a traditional face-to-face course with some e-learning
did not work.

In contrast the ACS pure e-learning approach worked well. The second
class of students is now doing the course and enrollments are open for
the third class:

My ANU colleagues did not try my blended approach and used traditional
lectures, which seemed to work better with Moodle. They will talking
about it on Monday at the ANU in Canberra:

For second semester 2009 I will be running a Green ICT course at ANU
COMP7310: <http://cs.anu.edu.au/students/comp7310/>. This is based on
the ACS e-learning course, with face-to-face seminars added. In addition
I will need to add some extra content to provide more context for the
university students who will not necessarily have the depth of workplace
experience of the ACS students. It will be interesting to see how it

My aim would be to have a university with courses which could be partly
online and partly face-to-face, with students choosing the mode, as
required. If the student feels the need and is able, they could attend
the campus, otherwise they would work remotely.

What I envision are the lecture theatres holding hundreds of students
being replaced by rooms holding about 20. This is on the assumption only
about this many students will attend a course on any given day. The
other students might attend the live event remotely via the Internet, or
watch a recording later. The 20 students in the room would provide
enough to provide interaction and act as representatives for the others.
I saw some technology for this in Brisbane at QUT recently

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                     
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University 
  Tom Worthington FACS HLM
  PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia

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