Thursday, June 30, 2005

2001 Insight

These pressures and technical innovations are likely to push the next generation of online teaching and learning more towards learner managed learning. Any new pedagogy which fully embraces online learning is likely to see the end of the course as an organising structure for learning. Fixed syllabi, predetermined outcomes and assessments, and strictly time-tabled activities imposed by programme managers will give way to frameworks or shells of support materials and services surrounding loosely defined fields of study, generalized outcomes, generic levels statements and activities pursued by the learners. In the place of the course there will be learning support environments which provide easy access to online support from tutors, mentors or external specialists, open chat facilities, special interest groups, one-to-one exchanges with a personal supervisor, tracking and personal log services and links with other frameworks and activities. Such a scenario is fully learner managed, exploits the features of online learning and is consistent with current trends and developments. It may not happen exactly that way - there are always surprises and disappointments in educational technology. But one thing does appear to be certain: the challenge facing teachers is not whether to give their online students responsibility for their own learning, but how much responsibility are they going to deny or facilitate, and how they are going to do it.

John Stephenson Head, International Centre for Learner Managed Learning, Middlesex University

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