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Reflecting on FLST14

I will never tire of the kind of engagement that comes from working online. Despite being able to contribute far less than usual during the five weeks of FSLT14 I nonetheless folloed the steady, manageable stream of points being made in the threaded discussions which were never too overwhelming. The greatest value for me came from reading the assignments of others and in my own live session which, because there were three students and two tutors resulted in far more of a tutorial like atmosphere – I wish I’d had a chance to join all the others too as my perspective of what each speaker had to say was hugely magnified by hearing them explain, excuse, enthuse, apoligise for, compare or give reason to their response. I must remember too that committing your words, publishing them to the Web, is still a big thing for many people – not that many of us are still blogging as they did in 1999.

Worth remarking is that this intimate, manageable, not overly designed and human online course possibly achieved so much because it was delivered on a human scale and did what it set out to do. I have to wonder on the value, it did come up, of doing nothing as a learning theory (Knud Illeris) that the pauses and spaces in learning matter – that reflection occurs not just as a formal exercise, but occurs simply by taking things more slowly, and not just that, but stopping too.

Have I learnt by osmosis? I’ve read everything but unusually for me not jumped in to comment all the time. I did this because I felt I would be unable to keep up the discussion very closely, perhaps responding every few days, simply because I am online working and writing elsewhere.

I am not an educator in higher education, though I have had experience of teaching, talking and giving workshops at every level from primary school to MBA, in the conference hall or by the pool, in a class and online to one or being followed by many hundreds. This peripatetic online presence may shape up into something more formal as a regular moderator or tutor or I may retreat to whatever space suits me best to research and write.

Three years ago I challenged Martin Weller on how long it would take to recognise someone as a digital scholar – he said ten years, I said four. At the time I thought of voices like that of Andrew Sullivan as a scholarly voice of the digital age – but with a BA from Oxford, and MA and Phd from Harvard however much he lives out his life as a professional blogger he is surely the scholar who uses the digital platform, rather than a product of it. So I got that wrong. My thinking is that the scholar who is of the digital environment can still do it in four years, but we need to think of students who exploit it exclusively, and probably of necessity because of their circumstances – and indicated by fast tracking teenagers taking degrees here, and never moving on to the campus for their MA and PhD – or only tangentially. After all, at what point does all learning becoming blended between the online and the ‘off line’ and as appears to be happening, once again, all learning is simply that, without the need to add an e or an m in front of it.

Much more to reflect on – to chew the cud online.


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