Another academic term has just started at Macquarie University Campus. First-years are looking around for opportunities to meet new friends, join a social club and attend one of the many induction sessions. What a great way to start their journey into academia! But what about our fully online learners? Do they have the same opportunities to ‘bond’? Do they experience the same level of engagement with academia as our campus students?
As part of the iLearn upgrade in February, one of the new features is an online collaboration space, aptly called Collaborate!
The use of Collaborate for virtual classrooms was successfully trialled in 2013 as part of LTC’s Faculty Partnership Program in an introductory Chinese language unit. The academic was able to hold a web conference to introduce the objectives and activity for the session, send students in pairs to ‘break out rooms’ to undertake the learning activity, then regroup for a debrief of the activity. These sessions were also recorded and available to students after the live event.
Collaborate allows for real-time, synchronous engagement so there are many possibilities:
- Collaboration space for group work
- Language studies
- Virtual lab experiments
- Guest expert lecture or interview
- Authentic role play
- Student presentations
- Tutoring for external students
- Virtual meeting spaces
- Virtual consultation hours
- Meeting space for academics and their tutors, meeting space for departments, etc
Collaborate tools include:
- Session recordings
- Desktop sharing
- Engagement tools (emoticons, polling, hand raising to ask questions)
- Communication tools (microphone, chat, application sharing)
So now you’re hooked and want to know more? Sit tight and stay tuned, more details will be posted when available for use but if you’re as keen as mustard, lodge a OneHelp ticket expressing your interest in using Collaborate.
Although a recent survey of colleges and universities from the U.S. indicates that the number of students taking at least one online course continued to grow, the rate is the lowest in a decade.
Further, the proportion of institutions that believe that online education is a critical component of their long-term strategy has only shown a small increase.
By contrast, the percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those as in face-to-face instruction, grew from 57% in 2003 to 74% in 2013.
The 2013 Survey on Tracking Online Education in the United States by the Babson Survey Research Group was published in January (2014). Grade Change – Tracking Online Education in the United States is the eleventh annual report in this series and reports on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. The survey collected responses from more than 2,800 colleges and universities and is aimed at answering fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education.
Click here to download a copy of the survey.
Tony Bates, well known thinker and author on distance and online learning has published his 2020 Vision: Outlook for online learning in 2014 and way beyond.
In his vision he outlines 9 main points:
- The disappearance of online learning as a separate construct
- Multi-mode delivery concentrated in fewer institutions – but more diversity
- Multi-purpose, open delivery, with multiple levels of service and fees
- Goodbye to the lecture-based course
- Goodbye to the written exam – and welcome to the final implementation of lifelong learning
- New financial models
- Systematic faculty development and training
- Devolved decision-making and organizational models
- Student privacy, data security and student online behaviour will become more difficult
The replacement of lectures has been predicted for many years now. The emergence of the flipped classroom has given us a viable alternative. What do you think? Which predictions do you agree with?
In October 2013 I engaged in a discussion with fellow online learning scholars in the Association of Learning Technology Mail-list (UK). We discussed various issues related to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and their perceived and actual value for enhancing learning in Universities. Perhaps the most well thought out contribution was made by Professor Diana Laurillard from the Institute of Education, University of London. She wrote: Continue reading Panos reflects on MOOCs