|Poster generated using Keep Calms.
"Keep Calm and Carry Online" a sign on the wall behind me, during webinars from my lounge room for the last eighteen months. So that as the working title for this series of talks. Contributions, corrections and offers of where to present would be welcome.
Keep Calm and Carry Online: Keeping the best bits of online learning after COVID-19
Tom Worthington, Honorary Senior Lecturer, ANU School of Computing
Abstract: Schools and universities made an emergency switch to online education last year due to COVID-19. This was challenging for students, teachers and the education system. What of this should be retained, particularly for more mature school, and university students, as the pandemic is brought under control? Come join Tom Worthington, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Computing, at the Australian National University. Find out how he spent seven years preparing for emergency e-learning, how it went when the pandemic stuck, and how we can continue to use the technology and techniques to make learning for students and teachers.
About the speaker: Tom Worthington is an Honorary Senior Lecturer, at the ANU School of Computing, an independent computer consultant and educational technology designer. He previously wrote IT policy for the Australian Department of Defence. Tom is a Fellow, Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Australian Computer Society. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Tom has a Masters of Education in Open, Digital and Distance Education from Athabasca University and blogs as the highereducationwhisperer.com
Keeping the best bits of online learning after COVID-19
Preparing Online for a Global Pandemic
- Accessible web page design,
- Compatibility with desktop & mobile devices,
- Efficient encoding for fast download on slow networks,
- Clear use of language, avoiding large and complex visual material.
At the Department of Defence, until 1999, I worked on dealing with emergencies, using computers and the Internet. I kept up this interest and delivered a series of student projects, lectures and assignments at the Australian National University on using the Internet a mobile phones for emergencies, including a global pandemic. Also I assisted the Sahana Foundation with free open source software for humanitarian operations. The approach used in all these projects was accessible web page design compatible with desktop and mobile devices, efficient page encoding for fast download on slow networks, clear use of language, avoiding overly large and complex visual material.
Preparing to Teach International Students Online in an Emergency
In 2008 I was contracted to design an online professional development course in Green ICT, for the Australian Computer Society (ACS). This used the Australian developed Moodle open sources Learning Management System. ACS allowed me to place an open access licence on the course. The Australian National University (ANU) also used Moodle, so I was able to copy the course from ACS to ANU, and run it for on campus and remote students. In 2013 I enrolled in an MEd in Distance Education at Athabasca university as an online international student, to learn how to design courses for online international students (Athabasca were using the Green ICT course I designed). In the conclusion of my capstone e-portfolio, and a series of talks, I suggested Canberra's universities should be ready to switch to online learning if a regional crisis kept students from campus. Also I suggested online learning to better compete in the education market. In late 2019 I delivered an international conference paper describing how to provide classroom group teaching to domestic and international students, in a way which could be moved online quickly in an emergency. This would be needed for a global emergency three months later.
Responding to the Coronavirus Emergency with e-Learning
- Crash teaching new tutors to teach online in early 2020,
- Blended mode switched to full online contingency in 2020,
- Ready to switch to hybrid mode in 2022,
- Blogged all this, as well as conference papers.
The X-factor for Student Satisfaction
|Gary Martin, CEO, AIMWA
Gary Martin, chief executive officer of the Australian Institute of Management WA, recently asked what gave a quality experience for Australian university students ("Creating an X-factor Experience", Business News, 22 August 2021). After scrambling to quickly deliver online courses, universities around the world are asking: what next? Do they return to pre-COVID campus based teaching, provide online courses alongside campus ones, blended learning which has some online and some face to face elements, or hybrid with classroom linked online.
While academics and university executives may think online delivery is still an open question, students now expect courses to be available online as a matter of routine. However, they also want the option of face to face classes, where they can work with others, under the guidance of experts. What will distinguish a course is the quality of interaction provided, with students and staff.
As an online student for seven years I found I could manage to study by following the materials provided, doing the readings and exercises. However, it was a very lonely, frustrating experience. What stood out were the occasions when I met and worked virtually with my fellow students. Events live with instructors were a highlight. The very rare occasions when I met my instructors were a bonus, as they were on the other side of the country, or the globe.
The Sage on the Stage
|Prof. Steve Blackburn teaching Structured Programming
with interactive live-streamed lectures
from ANU Manning Clark Hall.
Guide on the side
|Prof. Steve Blackburn & tutor Leopold Zhou
In the video, Steve mentions the role of tutors. Called Teaching Assistants (TAs) in North America, they are critical. While the professor takes center stage, the tutors work with smaller groups of students, assisting in lectures, in tutorials, workshops and laboratories, to investigate topics and practice skills. Here again, tutoring is a skill which takes training and practice, with a extra layer of complexity when carried out online.
Support CrewDr Kim Blackmore, Director,
ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching
Backing up the professor and tutors are many other staff. Producing courses, especially online courses, requires educational designers, video makers, and other specialists. Ed designers work with the subject matter experts to structure the learning and assessment, video makers and others polish the materials.
The Australian National University has a Centre for Learning and Teaching, headed by Dr Kim Blackmore, as well as staff in the colleges. These staff have been busy during the pandemic, with a crash program to move courses online. But they are always busy, so if you need help, give them plenty of notice.
Both classroom based and online learning also require technical support personnel to keep the audio visual systems, software and networks working. The last decade has seen new software to delivery learning developed. When working properly, and used as intended, these systems lighten the burden for students and teachers.
University of Kentucky.
Dogfood: Be an online student of teaching- You don't know how frustratingly hard it is, until you try it.
- If you find study frustrating, conflicting with family and work commitments, then you know what it is like for your students.
Alpo Dog Food Commercial, 1980
'Back in the 1980s when actor Lorne Greene served as the pitchman for Alpo dog food, the TV commercials were careful to point out that he indeed fed Alpo to his dogs. Consequently, the idea that someone would use the products they were making became known as "eating your own dog food.'
From Harrison, W. (2006). Eating your own dog food. IEEE Software, 23(3), 5-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MS.2006.72
|ANU EFS, Information Sessions
from 14 September
Build the course around the assessment
Students worry about assessment, so tell them what it is, and how each learning activity supports it. Delete activities, readings and materials which don't relate to assessment. Have small assessment tasks every week, to keep the students engaged (1% or 2% a week will do). Have a best of assessment scheme, so students can have multiple attempts. Provide results with feedback each week.
Team Teaching in ANU TechLauncher
- Course convener: Dr Charles Gretton, sets the context
- Subject matter expert: Tempe Archer, delivers the workshop.
- Instructor: Tom Worthington, manages the students
- 200 Students: Peer review.
- 13 Tutors: Assess their student’s portfolios.
The Lexus and The Learner: Engineering Quality Education
Universities across the world are now struggling to come up with a post-COVID education strategy. On the one hand online learning has shown education can be provided efficiently anywhere, on the other there is a desire to provide a personal experience. Thomas L. Friedman explored a similar dilemma in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization" (1999). Lexus motor vehicles represented the desire for the products of globalization, and the olive tree local tradition. Friedman argued that globalization would win out, but I suggest it is possible to have both.
Engineering a car for global standards takes hundreds of engineers years and billions of dollars. So makers such as Toyota design a common "platform" for a range of models, from low cost to luxury ones. Luxury models are hand finished with some premium components, to give a luxury product.
- Higher Education After COVID-19, six webinars from August 2020, by Tom Worthington, for the Microlearning Series curated by Manisha Khetarpal at Maskwacis Cultural College, Canada
- Engaging students in the online environment, five webinars from February 2021, by Tom Worthington, for the Microlearning Series curated by Manisha Khetarpal at Maskwacis Cultural College, Canada
- Learning to Reflect Module Version 5.0: Hybrid Edition by Tom Worthington, for the module for the ANU TechLauncher program, 2018 to 2021.