Tuesday, March 18, 2008

George Siemens continues to expand his discussion of a "world without courses." His latest post expands his discussion of this idea.

He identifies for major problems in the creation of open learning enterprises:

1. Finding quality content
2. Creating pathways through content
3. Fostering connections between teachers and learners
4. Determining competence (accreditation of learning/teachers/schools)

I would add the following challenges to this list (some of these only apply to higher education and graduate education)

1. Creating quality content. We have models for textbooks, f2f lectures, etc and know somethings about effective teaching in traditional classrooms. We have not identified the effective models for open learning and we have barely begun to learn how to create effective multimedia instruction.

2. Creating learning communities. Perhaps this idea is encompassed in Siemen's "fostering connections," but there is a lot of work to be done regarding the creation of effective learning communities in regards to roles of instructors and roles of students. Here are some ideas I have been working on in regards to the roles of teachers and learners.

3. Developing collaborative relationships online. I think we have underestimated the amount of time, effort and skill that it takes to develop effective collaborative relationships from a distance. This is at the heart of advanced learning between teachers and graduate students. We have much to learn in this area.

4. Conducting research online. I am not sure if this is true, but I think that effective graduate training will require that we have our research tools online. In short, this means that we need to put our research labs online. The challenges of this task vary by field. Some fields already have much of their labs online (astronomy) and some fields would have significant difficulty moving all their work to an online space-- biology and chemistry for example. Some types of social science research can be moved online, but there are ethical and privacy issues that need careful attention.

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