[LINK] the net, higher ed, and change

David Lochrin dlochrin at d2.net.au
Wed Jun 17 22:03:25 EST 2009


On Tuesday 16 June 2009 11:59, Glen Turner wrote:
> On 12/06/09 17:40, David Lochrin wrote:
> 
>> Yes Tom, but what does it all actually ~achieve~ over the 
>> traditional university culture, and what is lost?
> 
> I've thought about this more as the days pass.
> 
> It offers the opportunity to return to an older university culture. When 
> students were expected to do a large amount of independent learning, 
> guided by regular meetings with tutors, broadly following a plan devised 
> and supervised by a professor.

I think this works better for higher-level study.  When students are given a formal classroom lecture everyone receives a common presentation which provides "navigational" guidance to the subject.  But leaving too much to private study, especially in earlier years, gives more scope for students to miss the intended thread and go off on tangents of their own.  And even formal lectures have some scope for student interaction.

I think there's also a tradeoff between the extent of private study and the formal assessment load.

> My concern would be that the cost savings from ceasing lectures would 
> go back into university funds, rather than being used to consciously 
> develop a new model of closer engagement with students (eg, hiring 
> sessional staff).

Indeed!

> My other concern is that students may not actually desire independent
> learning. Let's face it, for most university subjects if you attend the 
> lectures, crib the assessments and cram the exam then you'll pass. 
> That's a lot less work than actually coming to grips with a subject.

Yes...  and in a subject requiring a high degree of collaboration some students will simply leave the work to others.  However this can be countered with a carefully designed assessment strategy.

> Equally, I'll note that we once gave students 18 weeks to come to
> terms with a topic. Now I see 10 week semesters at some places.

Yes again... and this also increases the intensity of feedback required to keep students on track.

David


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