Monday, December 4, 2023

Being effective is authentic

Greetings from ASCILITE 2023 in Christchurch, where David White, Dean of Academic Strategy (Online) at University of the Arts London, and President of the Association of Learning Technology, is speaking on "Being effective isn’t authentic: Building digital education culture". So far I am finding the talk annoying. Like many speakers in the last few years he talked about how well educational institutions did switching to online education and how important this was. I have no problem with that, but online learning was not a new thing these institutions stumbled across. Institutions and individual spent decades working on e-learning, including for deployment in an emergency, including an epidemic. 

Something I agreed with more that university staff's ideal student is one who lives nearby (or on campus), attends, and structures their life around their studies. This is also not a new thing. Distance education has provided for students who can't get to campus, and want an education to improve their life, not a lifestyle. This was thoroughly explored with the founding of the Open University

David White suggested the wish of employers to have staff return to the office, and academics have students back was power, not efficient work or learning. I suggest it is not necessarily that Machiavellian, it is just that this is what they are used to. If you spent your formative years in meetings, or lectures, then that is all you know and trust. A few months forced online in had hoc arrangements is not necessarily going to change your views. In contrast I was trained, educated and mentored online, to teach online, so this seems normal and natural. 

David White  ended by suggesting thinking of universities as "Digital institutions that also own buildings". I suggesting dropping "digital", as the virtual university was possible, and existed in the age of paper mail. This was discussed, at length, in Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". 

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