Thursday, January 2, 2020

Facilitating Learning

I came across the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) courses, while looking for materials to teach Australian university tutors. These courses are hosted by BCcampus in British Colombia, Canada (an organization similar to an Australian state funded TAFE vocational education providers). FLO courses are derived from the Canadian Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW), but intended for online delivery to those who teach online, rather than ISW's face-to-face. FLO materials are available as Moodle backup files, so they can downloaded, modified and uses (under a CC-BY license, for free).


In reading through the ISW and FLO materials, it struck me that there was no longer a need for two different approaches to teaching instructors, with two sets of courses and materials. There are no fundamental differences in the way students learn on-line or face-to-face, or the way instructors do their job. Instead teachers could learn how to teach online, an face to face. The materials and exercises for this could be designed for delivery online, or face-to-face, but like most post-secondary courses today, would likely be delivered via a blend.


In Australia, where I teach, and I assume Canada (where I have studied), most courses are officially categorized as classroom based, but students treat them as blended, only attending the face-to-face components they find of value. A student can usually get course outlines, videos, exercises and assignments online, only needing to turn up to some workshops/tutorials, and some examinations. Where conventional lectures are offered, most students will not turn up.


Post-secondary teachers can become frustrated when their students don't turn up. This frustration, I suggest, could be lessened by taking teachers through a well designed blended course, on how to teach. Instead offering a course which focuses on classroom exercises will increase frustration.


ps: One thing I did not understand is that FLO's Facilitators Forum (implemented in Moodle), is called a "Private Rail Car" and has a photo of a dome topped railway car. Is this ed-tech jargon, or Canadian slang? wink

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