The advantages and disadvantages of on-line learning are commonly understood – examples include “any time, anywhere” learning and a lack of secondary channels of feedback (e.g. non verbal communication) respectively. Thus it follows that we need to modify our pedagogy of teaching and learning to better fit the new tools and techniques that ICT affords us.
Edge Hill’s own SOLSTICE project runs many sessions focussing on different aspects of on-line pedagogy; two of the most important areas perhaps being “content” and asynchronous discussion:
Content: We cannot simply upload the PowerPoint we used in class – it lacks your verbal contributions, and any enrichment from the rest of the group. We must create content which creates a similar learning experience as if the session were delivered traditionally. One downside of this approach is that it can result in large amounts of text over many pages. However, we can break up monolithic text with attractive multimedia content such as images, video and audio. Also you can embed student contributions from previous courses (perhaps even including anticipated student contributions).
Discussion: On-line asynchronous discussions are a great tool for enabling students to discuss and reflect on topics being covered by the course. However, we need to be cautious in how we set these up and must formulate our initial “invitation” carefully to encourage rich contributions which maximise the learning process for all those involved. Some of the best discussions have been instigated with a contentious proposal designed to encourage those less likely to contribute due to concerns such as a lack of confidence with the technology or the permanence of their contributions.