Reshaping distance education – returning the student to centre stage


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A parallel presentation by Dr Barrie Todhunter from the University of Southern Queensland for the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning the (14 to 18 February 2011)

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Reshaping distance education – returning the student to centre stage

  1. 1. DEHub SUMMIT 2011Reshaping distance educationreturning the student to centre stage<br />Dr Barrie Todhunter<br />University of Southern Queensland <br />
  2. 2. Distance education <br />Accidental academic – 30 years in industry <br />This paper discusses results of a case study to develop guiding principles for DE for PG students in a coursework context (project management)<br />Good question raised in morning - what is DE? <br />Every student studies at a distance – always has, always will – the demarcation is blurred <br />I have tried to tease out the real implications of DE<br />I prefer ‘learning at a distance’ – that makes it about the student, not us <br />
  3. 3. The bigger picture<br />T.E. Jones’ (University of Queensland) principles for DE:<br />work of external students should synchronise as closely as possible with that of internal students; <br />External students should submit to the same examination tests as internal students, and receive identical credit; <br />External students should receive as far as possible the same assistance as internal students; <br />External and internal students should pay the same fees; <br />External students should be able to sit for examinations at centres in rural areas(Roberts, 2000). <br />When was this written? <br />
  4. 4. Objectives for development of the guiding principles<br />To ensure that:<br />there are ‘absolutely no inconsistencies between the curriculum we teach, the teaching methods we use, the learning environment we choose, and the assessment procedures we adopt’ (Biggs, 1999, p. 5, cited in Mayes & de Freitas), and<br />there is alignment across all dimensions of the distance education students’ learning experience (Biggs, 2003; Steeples & Jones, 2002).<br /><ul><li>The key message – ‘holistic’ </li></li></ul><li>The key principles<br />Approaches to DE are fragmented – no clear focus<br />The student should be at the centre of everything we do<br />It’s too often about us and how clever we are<br />It should be about their experience and their outcomes <br />It is about ‘Educating Rita’ and many more like her <br />Peter Goodyear (1999) clearly identified concentric layersof the student learning experience <br />The educational setting of the individual student<br />The pedagogical philosophy, strategy & tactics through which the student experiences the learning journey<br />The organisational context within which the teaching and learning culture evolves<br />
  5. 5. Six key dimensions of the learning experience<br />Findings identified six key dimensions of the student learning experience for which there are implications at each of the 3 layers of Goodyear’s framework:<br />Community building (across, down and up)<br />Learner-centredness (student-focused in all aspects)<br />Collaborative learning (reflecting the workplace)<br />Situated learning (real world and authentic)<br />Learning support (people and resources) <br />Learning outcomes (attributes and evaluation)<br />
  6. 6. (adapted from Goodyear 1999)<br />
  7. 7. Key recommendations for university administrators<br />Distance education teaching and learning must be acknowledged as a core function of the University (teaching & learning is being pushed off centre stage)<br />Constructive alignment must be achieved across all administrative and academic functions (more than lip service)<br />Postgraduate teaching and learning at a distance must be recognised as a discrete component of teaching and learning (PG students are lost in the debate)<br />Incorporate genuine openness and flexibility <br />Staff must be adequately trained and resourced <br />
  8. 8. Recommendations for teaching & learning <br />Teaching and learning practices should evolve from the needs of a student-centred PG learning community<br />Graduate attributes should be defined for postgraduate students – how are they different? <br />Students should engage in interactive and collaborative learning tasks and activities <br />Students should engage in situated learning, where tasks & activities take place in authentic project management contexts<br />Deliver learning outcomes that are endorsed by all stakeholders in the project management programs<br />