Reasons for having not blogged for some weeks would be a good lead in for this article. The pace of year three negotiations over recent weeks have been incredible and much of my time has been spent in this activity. With research ideas as the ball online tennis has been my game of choice! The link will be apparent in just a moment 🙂 

News recently came to me about the closure of another online course. So why do so many attempts at online learning fail in HE.  Tutors and lectures are skilled practitioners able to assist learners but the skills sets for online pedagogy are quite different. I believe that attempts at online learning fail where tutors and lectures are sent to practice in a foreign land, where the culture and language of communication are radically different. Highly skilled and intelligent men and women are asked to make learning in a totally new environment. They are expected by senior colleagues (or some initiative or other) who may just be as unfamiliar with the virtual world, to just provide their courses online. It has taken perhaps the best part of twenty years or more for computers and DTP to reach ubiquity and still average home users rarely touch on the capabilities of the tools they use but rather transfer old methods to new technology – they turn from letter writing to typing, from opening the phone book to looking up numbers online, transfer CD’s to computer. But how many really make new possibility and enhance what they do by the tools they use. 

The same for me is true in online learning. Only the old methods don’t transfer so easily. Asking face to face lecturers to deliver online devalues the wealth of knowledge and understanding about learning in the virtual world that has grown and is maturing. It devalues online professionals and the almost sure failure of a straight transfer without sound consideration of pedagogy must surely damage the professionals involved. 

So what’s this got to do with my week … one of the poorest mis-judgements about online learning is the time involved. It should not be mechanisation. It is far deeper than this. In the move to just slot courses in to the online domain there is a severe underestimation of the role of the tutor.