From place to virtual space: reconfiguring student support in distance education

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keynote at Hamburg AG-F meeting, May 2012

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  • The aim has been to cause the minimum amount of disruption to colleagues’ work. (Talk through areas of the table that are relevant to your audience – a good point to check for understanding and opportunity to raise questions)
  • From place to virtual space: reconfiguring student support in distance education

    1. 1. From Place to Virtual Space:Reconfiguring StudentSupport in Distance EducationAG-F Universität Hamburg, 2012Alan TaitPro Vice-ChancellorProfessor of Distance Education and DevelopmentThe Open University
    2. 2. Three themes• The development of student support at OU UK over last 40 years: a review• The development of technologies that support this broad historical sweep: ‘disembedding the local’• Change and continuities for the direction of student support for the future 2
    3. 3. What is happening underneaththe surface?• Disembedding• Die Entbettung?• ‘Lifting out of social relations from local contexts of interaction and their restructuring across indefinite spans of time-space’ Giddens (1991) The Consequences of Modernity 3
    4. 4. Characteristics of Late Modernity• Disembedding from local• Longer historical sweep from oral to written cultures• Role of mass communication 4
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    6. 6. Regions and Nations England 1 London 13 OU Regions/Nations 2 South (Oxford) 3 South West (Bristol) 4 West Midlands (Birmingham) 5 East Midlands (Nottingham) 6 East (Cambridge) 7 Yorkshire (Leeds) 8 North West (Manchester) 9 North (Newcastle) 13 South East (East Grinstead) 10 Wales (Cardiff) 11 Scotland (Edinburgh) Milton Keynes (HQ) 12 Ireland (Belfast and Dublin) 6
    7. 7. Locations 7 * Please note that these are part of the same CST
    8. 8. The vision for the studentexperienceFor students•Coherent, personal and targeted•Enable students to: – achieve their study goals – achieve their personal and career development goals – enhance their contribution to societyFor the University•A reputation for access, quality and achievement•The first choice for students•A benchmark for other HEIs•Adapting and evolving, at the leading edge•Meeting recruitment, retention and completion targets 8
    9. 9. Three main student supportmodels• 1976-2000 Tutor-counsellor, embedded in local study centre, plus tutor more or less local, plus Regional Centre staff• 2000-2012 Tutor, more or less local, plus Regional Centre Advisory staff• 2013 - Curriculum Support Team on national basis, plus tutor more or less local 9
    10. 10. Curriculum Support Teams• Serves curriculum programme for all territories• Move away from geography to subject focus an ongoing principle• Multi-disciplinary for professional perspective• Cheaper division of labour of +40 years 10
    11. 11. An ancient Egyptian table calculating the number of sacrifices made of a particular type over the course of a specified period. 3000 BCRation record from Babylondating to the years 594–569 BC 11
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    18. 18. 1955 18
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    21. 21. What else is new?• Ability to make learners responsible for sourcing (some) material• Capacity for peer and collaborative work• Richness of learning with multi-media• In industrial centre-periphery open universities, ability of central staff to engage continuously with students• Ability to deliver near-constant updating of learning materials 21
    22. 22. Continuities• Cognitive/affective/systemic dimensions to student support (Tait 2000)• Support to students to achieve their goals Overall• Student as subject not object• Values which drive• and politics which negotiate choices for policy 22
    23. 23. Geological sense of development • Layers added to layers • Still visible • Some fossils! • What do we take out? 23
    24. 24. Disembedding: a characteristic oflate modernity‘Lifting out of social relations from local contexts of interaction and their restructuring across indefinite spans of time-space’Giddens (1991) The Consequences of Modernity 24
    25. 25. Disembedding• Distancing from location and physical presence• Escape from context• Changes nature of human experience• Key to social mobility• From or with community? 25
    26. 26. WORLD INTERNET USAGE AND POPULATION STATISTICS December 31, 2011 Internet Penetration Population Internet Users Growth Users % World Regions Users (% ( 2011 Est.) Dec. 31, 2000 2000-2011 of Table Latest Data Population)Africa 1,037,524,058 4,514,400 139,875,242 13.5 % 2,988.4 % 6.2 %Asia 3,879,740,877 114,304,000 1,016,799,076 26.2 % 789.6 % 44.8 %Europe 816,426,346 105,096,093 500,723,686 61.3 % 376.4 % 22.1 %Middle East 216,258,843 3,284,800 77,020,995 35.6 % 2,244.8 % 3.4 %North America 347,394,870 108,096,800 273,067,546 78.6 % 152.6 % 12.0 %Latin America / Carib. 597,283,165 18,068,919 235,819,740 39.5 % 1,205.1 % 10.4 %Oceania / Australia 35,426,995 7,620,480 23,927,457 67.5 % 214.0 % 1.1 %WORLD TOTAL 6,930,055,154 360,985,492 2,267,233,742 32.7 % 528.1 % 100.0Internet World Statshttp://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm 26
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    28. 28. What are principles for studentsupport for the future?• Essential role in pedagogy model, and student achievement• Safe to assume that all relevant communities live at ease with disembedded educational systems?• Obligation to develop paths out of local to disembedded worlds 28
    29. 29. Our obligations as educators?• Disembedding is independent of educational systems• We must reflect it• We must help our students engage and do well with it• We must exploit its affordances• We must acknowledge its challenges 29
    30. 30. Vielen Dank! 30

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