Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Future Will Happen

Greetings from EdTechPosium at the Australian Catholic University's new teaching building in Canberra. Dr. Carol Russell from UWS is discussing "Online learning and the student perspective". Dr. Russell related her experience in the 1990s at the Open University UK (OUUK), with early online learning (later codified by Salmon).

More recently, UWS has a new campus at Paramatta with no lecture theaters and Dr. Russell commented staff will therefore need to change their teaching technique. My worry is that with some incentive and training staff will not change their teach techniques: the poor quality lectures in rooms not designed for them. 

Dr. Russell showed a photo of a paper based examination at UWS. I was a little surprised with this, not that they were using paper for an examination, but that UWS was still having examinations at all. I stopped using lectures and examinations in 2008. 

Dr. Russell asked how to assess skills in the new university environment. The way I have been doing it since 2009 is to get the student to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they will need for a job, ideally in the workplace actually doing the job. This approach is also used with ANU computing interns and TechLauncher group projects. With these the students have a real boss (or "client") and a real task. This not just a matter of the student spending time on work experience, they are assessed against curriculum requirements.

ps: It happens that I have three books from OUUK on the desk beside me:
  1. Reconstructing Professionalism In University Teaching, Walker, 2001
  2. On Becoming An Innovative University Teacher, Cowan, 2006
  3. Making Sense of Academic Life: Academics, Universities, and Change, Taylor, 2000
I borrowed these from the new ACU Library. This is just below the large flat floor classroom where EdTechPosium is being held. This was invaluable during my time studying for a MEd, due to its excellent collection of works on education (ACU generously provides staff of other universities with borrowing rights). These books are about a revolution in higher education which has been happening for decades and is still in progress. Many of the issues are still current and have been discussed at EdTechPosium 2018.

One of the delegates, skeptical of futurism commented "The Future Will Happen".

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