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Easter reflections

March 20th, 2008

An early edition of reflections for the Easter long weekend. Write on any topic, or just “what I did for Easter”. Feel free to write at greater length than for a standard comment thread. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Will
    March 24th, 2008 at 21:42 | #1

    Now that there has been a few year’s experience, and the initial gee-whiz of technology has worn off, I would be interested in other’s opinions on the real educational value of online teaching, especially where it offered (or at least perceived by students) as a substitute for class attendance.

  2. March 28th, 2008 at 15:06 | #2


    I wrote my first instructional program in the late 1970′s. It was a program to teach touch typing as Computer Aided Instruction on floppy disk. The lessons we learnt with that program still apply today.

    We would give the program free to anyone who asked for it if they wanted to learn to touch type just from the disk and paper instructions. About 10% completed the course even though they all “wanted” to learn.

    We sold it to some government departments who used it to train their employees in a semi structured environment. They were given an introductory session and then came back each week to show how they were progressing. 50% learnt to touch type.

    We used it in a writing course in an educational institution where students had to learn to touch type to pass the course and we did the same as the government departments in terms of the instructions. 100% learnt.

    It is not whether it is online teaching or the content that is important. It is the social environment and reward structures that you create that make the difference.

  3. SJ
    March 28th, 2008 at 21:27 | #3

    Will, the gee-whiz hasn’t worn off.

    There’s been a long history of things variously called correspondence courses, distance education, etc. There’s been an ongoing argument about whether these things are as good as class attendance. For some people it works, and for some it doesn’t.

    For want of a better term, “webbising” the teaching material makes things easier for both face-to-face and students and distance students.

    The distance students get access to the lecturer via email, and any face-to-face students who miss a lecture aren’t disadvantaged.

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