Thursday, April 28, 2022

No Reset to 2019 Says Lego Man

Stephen Dann, best known as a Lego Serious Play practitioner, writing in Times Higher Education, has warned against universities trying to return to pre-pandemic ways of teaching. He suggests the “touch campus” will not work, that is the idea that students want the campus experience. Stephen argues that the pandemic has shown that online learning works, and provides benefits for students who have work and family responsibilities. To that I would add the improved accessibility online, for those with a disability.

While I agree with Stephen, these arguments seem a bit dated. I had my epiphany on 12 August 2008, when I decided to stop giving lectures. Around this time I also stopped setting exam questions, in favor of progressive experiential assessment. My professional body trained me over the next few years to design, deliver and assess online. I applied this approach at ANU, and then spent seven years as an online student myself, including three as an international student.

By 2017 online seemed the normal and natural way to teach. If there was a classroom available, then I could use it to supplement the student's online learning. But I did not rely on a classroom, as after all a crisis could stop any or all students from getting to campus, and we had an obligation to plan for that

Dr Dann suggests embracing shift online, and rethink what we use classrooms for. This is an approach I support. It would not be good for learning, or for universities, to force students back to campus if all they get are boring old lectures and tutorials. It should be kept in mind that most students had already deserted the lecture theater years before COVID-19.

The approach I suggested in 2017, when I warned Canberra's university's a crisis could force all students online, was dogfooding. Those who teach at university need to learn how to do it by being a student, especially an online student. Some of the best education I have had is online, and the worst in a classroom supposedly being taught how to teach online.

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