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Who generates the content online? Who takes part and who stands back? Who are the beneficiaries?
Fig. 1. Stats from Jakob Nielsen (2006), graphic and annotations by Jonathan Vernon (2010)
Jakob Neilsen wrote ‘Web Usability‘ in 1999 – my addition is from 2001.
Online his thinking is still valid both on how to keep the message clear and stats on who does what. How does this impact on learning?
In a physical space I see an amphitheatre here, indeed, it strongly resembles one of the first university lectures I sat through: 90 in the hall, a man (possibly in his 90s giving a talk) with a few in the front row in ear shot so able to take part if they so wished.
I attend another two of these and gave up – not the course. I just looked at who was giving a lecture, found their latest book and read that instead.
Today students can go online for lecture notes, a video of the lecture (probably), as well as the lecturer’s published papers and books. The lecture, if streamed can be viewed at a distance, with participation in the back row through messaging. But does this lecturer now reach 900 students?
Could be 9 million through a TED lecture.
My role – e-learning, accessibility an a postgraduate module with the Open University
H810 Activity 1.3
My role and context in education.
Without knowing it or going into teaching I have always found myself inclined to teach – an inclination towards being an educator. (I enjoy being a lifelong learner, always a student of something whether sport, writing, history, drawing and even performance. An interest in video production took me into corporate training, carrying kit around Windscale in my teens, shooting video at university, and learning from a BBC producer and members of the trade association the IVCA until I established myself as a professional director and writer. I have worked on every kind of training video production: health and safety in the nuclear power industry, legal training, driving a 4×4, induction in the Crown Prosecution Service, Asthma Awareness for patients and GPs, IT security and ‘Green’ driving for the Post Office, careers and education choices for 14 year olds, management training and so on. These were usually facilitated and often supported with workbooks. In due course they became interactive and eventually (a backwards step for a decade) migrated to the Web. However, I had no formal understanding of the theory of education, of learning design or of interactive and online learning in particular until starting with the OU.
How these relate to accessibility and online learning.
In many cases creating accessible content is a requirement which in the past meant either the inclusion of subtitles or a signer in vision for those with a hearing impairment or disability. For computer based learning, which in its broadest sense takes in desktops, laptops, tablet and smartphones, with increasing sophistication are we at times restricting access to some if not many disabled people?
What would I like to achieve from the module (H810).
Concluding module to gain the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with graduation in 2013.
- Practical understanding of the issues.
- To help plan how the e–learning we produce meets the requirements of the DDA especially where this is a client request.
- Helping to ensure that consideration is given to accessibility at the briefing and design stages and that such efforts are costed then applied as scripts are written and learning designs developed.
- Provide support to colleagues when making accessibility a point in e–learning proposal documents.
- Informed discussions with disabled people I know (colleagues, friends and swimmers) and what they make of accessibility online provision.
- The ‘Montessori’ effect – by thinking how to improve access and communicate more clearly all learners will benefit – the confident e–learning designer may be the one who leaves out the bells and whistles.
Synchronous or asynchronous communication and learning?
We hear today, at a distance, in real time, broadcast on Radio, that TXT has overtaken the spoken word on the phone. I email by preference, though will TXT rather than speak usually because I feel I have time to compose my thoughts, can sometimes duplicate the message or a variation of it to several members of the family and then take stock of the responses as they come through – I don’t have time for chat. I avoid chat unless it suits me to chew over a topic, go round in circles and indulge the other speaker and me.
So how does this apply to learning? What is best face–to–face or at a distance, synchronous or asynchronous? The answer I understand is all of these, that interaction by whatever means available helps the learning process compared to working alone. You can think it through with a.n.other; you can share doubts and admit that yiu don’t ‘get’ the most trivial things and have it explained or expressed by somoene that at last makes sense.
‘Get it from Nellie’ is the expression I got from an 85 year old at the weekend, a long retired senior partrner from PriceWaterhouse. He believes in trainees, in the apprentice, the articled clerk, the junior picking it up from the senior. So simple, so obvious, yet where does this occur in education? I’ve only come across it between partners where one is a couple of years ahead of the other on an MBA programme and can give all kinds of guidance. We don’t see A level students helping those at GCSE, or one year group helping another as undergraduates. The system of a qualified PhD as lecturer or supervisor follows this model though. I found it worked a bit a primary school too with 10 and 11 year olds helping out with the youngest. Is there something of the extended family in this? Is there something of a more traditional, manageable community too of elders and others?
Social learning is about sharing, passing on and explaining. It should be less about indoctrination though, to what degree they can in Germany prevent by law any kind of religious upbringing until the young person has a say or thought on the matter is another things – you bring them up as agnostics or atheaists and that is what they’ll be.
There’s the need therefore to ‘get it out’ to express your ideas, to state where you are at, to be corrected or believed, vindicated or shot down. Knowledge doesn’t simply aggregate like coral, rather it feeds on the vibrancy of responses from others.