14 February 2009

WEEK TWO - More Reflexions

Blogs are a bit like diaries. Apart from my Outlook Calendar for future appointments (mainly centred around my University work), I do not keep a diary or record of what I do - I just get on with it and move on. Indeed, I dislike diary-keeping. Nevertheless, since doing this VLE course, I feel fairly comfortable about doing a blog - indeed, I was eager to start this one!

The second week is drawing to an end now. I have just finished doing the proof-reading and tidying up of the Green Team's Google Document Presentation. Geli has done most of the actual work and structuring. As reported in the previous posting, I did my bit on Friday 13th and that contribution seemed to have some constructive benefit to the team effort - see more details later.

Actually, talking about Friday the 13th, I commented to Katy (my boss) that "this has been the first year for ages that no one from the media has been in touch with me to talk on radio or TV about Superstitions". Then, as I was making a pot of tea for my lunch, she dashed into the office kitchen and urgently informed me that LBC (a London radio station) was on the phone and wanted me to do an interview. It turned out that a presenter called Jeni Barnett was doing her show and wanted me on at 2 pm. Katy kindly blocked out any potential student appointments on our booking system to free my time for the call. Anyway, it was a great interview and she gave me lots of time to speak. Most interviewers set out to make fun of superstitions, but she was genuinely interested, gave me more time on air than usual and said I had made a positive contribution to the afternoon on the topic.

Anyway, back to these academic reflexions. I have learnt a lot and am happy with the team interaction. I was keen to agree with the view that we should argue that "online participation should be compulsory". In one discussion I stated: "Yes, I fully agree that we should push the FOR argument. My premise was: "The very fact that someone has joined / subscribed to an online course implies a compulsion to partake in the required activities". ANALOGY: The very fact that a passenger buys a train ticket strongly implies that s/he will join and travel on the train."

I also proposed an Outline as follows:
WHO: "Who We Are" as the Green Team - perhaps we could each insert a photo and one-line blurb (if we have time)
WHAT: The Purpose of our Presentation - keep it short, sweet and simple (Less is More). That is, we are FOR the motion...
HOW: Structure (80% of our slides)
WHY: The Benefits when students part-take online

By chance, I read an article in The Times which had a bearing on the course. It was an article in Times 2 by Matt Symonds (2009 - Wed 11th Feb 8-9) 'How to Connect to Generation Y'. He puts forward the view that "Students live their lives on FaceBook and the colleges are finally starting to get the idea".

Therefore, although the Green Team are adopting a tough FOR line, we also state that university VLEs are boring [because they like to keep CONTROL] and tutors / institutions have to devise ways to increase online participation so that students want to part-take. That is, follow the Oxford VLE course approach, embrace Web 2.0 and establish themselves on FaceBook, Flickr, My Space, Blogger, etc. The mountain has to come to Mohamed - or something like that? I stated that 'VLE = Very Limited Experience' because academics are obsessed with control. The classroom / lecture model has to go. Given this approach, the students will be keen to part-take on the online course and not feel any pressure upon them.

I will end here and post this blog. If any more thoughts come to me it is easy to add them. That is a beautiful aspect of blogging...


  1. Colin Neville19 June, 2013 00:00

    Alec has drawn attention to an issue that causes confusion and real difficulties to students. Some students on combined studies courses face having to reference in two or three different styles, aggravated by inconsistencies among tutors on their interpretations of 'Harvard', 'APA' etc. In my research I found a tutor who had completely invented a new referencing style and imposed it on her students without consultation or discussion with her colleagues. Universities that have adopted a single system, e.g. Coventry and Portsmouth, find that inconsistencies of interpretation are considerably reduced if all staff and students are 'singing from the same hymn sheet.'
    Alec proposes a single system based on an intuitive response to source management that is interesting in that it can potentially overcome departmental rivalries within university departments about changing from a preferred style to another's preferred style. This is a 'new start' position for everyone. But driving major change through universities on issues like this without insider champions is a challenge that would make Sisyphus weep.

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