Monday, April 12, 2010

Online communities for post-graduate education

The speaker after my Green ICT presentation at the second workshop on technology-enhanced learning at ANU was Peter Evans (USQ) on "Using e-Learning technologies and online communities to support post-graduate education". He argued that educators have to be open to using the technology which their students already use, such as instant messaging and social networking.

USQ requires all courses to have an online component, with at least a description of the course, but Peter argued that so much more could be done. He questioned why courses were divided into 13 week blocks and suggested that e-portfolios could be used to pull the material together. I did not find this a convincing argument. If he course designers and educators have not built the courses into a coherent whole, it seems difficult to see why, or how, the students would do this.

What I found most useful was Peter's suggestion to use the students to influence the behaviour of other educators. He suggested that by showing the students how to use online techniques the students will then ask for these facilities in courses. Rather than confront staff, the learning techniques can be introduced as a technical option of the system tools.

Peter also mentioned is knowledgeGarden web site where he provides some materials for advanced learning technologies and learning communities.

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