07 February 2009

On-line learning (4)

I've just been checking in with the course--hey, how better could one spend a Saturday (now Sunday) night?

I'm struck by the increasing demands on the tutors (although they did literally ask for it when they encouraged the use of web 2.0 resources). When I first tutored on-line 12 years ago, we used a package called FirstClass, which kept track of one's time on-line among other facilities. My first significant learning from that module was that I rapidly exceeded the allocated staff hours for the module, logged on to work with the student participants. And I was just one of three tutors working with nine students.

Returning to the fray years later, as a student rather than a tutor, I find that the channels have proliferated. I'm not a fan of the bounded VLE; it's a tool which tries to do too many things not very well and is obsessed not with privacy but secrecy. But, it certainly simplifies things for the tutors. And given that this course has already encouraged us to go to blogs and Flickr (sorry--not got round to that--I use Picasa and E-snips, are they roughly the same?) it must be a hassle keeping up. So, respect to them for their encouraging feedback; at the moment it is probably simple reinforcement for contributing, but in the future...?

But leaving aside the welfare of the tutors... Now, I want to know where we are going. I need a clearer sense of direction(s).

This course actually comes with a book! Sadly, my enrolment deal does not include a free copy; I have ordered it from the great river, but the stream which leads to my house is clearly clogged with ice-floes--we have received no physical mail for the past four days. (The library copies are out.) So I haven't read the prescribed chapters, yet... But I do need input. Input in respect of researched and established theory. Not "Let's have a chat and find out what works for us" stuff. The feedback has concentrated on encouragement; good idea so far as people have admitted their trepidation in joining in. I've received a couple of tutor comments which refer to "thought-provoking" ideas. They probably mean "bullshit", but of course they can't say so. Yet. I can't start learning, because that is what it is all about, until I get Feedback, with a capital "F". So we have to move on...

I know! Were I a tutor, I should be more circumspect. But I'm not a tutor! So I can be...

Frustrated? Yes. Is this a good thing? It does mean I am hungry for something. But it also suggests I am on the cusp of getting what I want or giving up... I shan't do that, but is this "normal" for e-learners? Is there an equivalent process to the supposed group development process of forming-storming-norming-performing?


  1. the lack of feedback at uni for my assessments drove me crazy. ditto the limited time tutors/lecturers would put into one-to-one with students.

    the culture at my uni tended toward
    "if you ask me for clarification i'll tell you uni is about independent learning; and if you mention fees paid to LEARN i'll accuse you of trying to buy your grade"

    i started my online tutor:mentor service for students trying to learn (and juggle life roles); learning requires feedback, and i enjoy the conversations where feedback is built on and ideas brainstromed.

  2. What does "forming a group" have to do with you learning, as an individual? In Japan, where I work, group-formation and bonding seems to hold a much higher priority in students' minds than learning anything. Students have dropped out because they did not get on with the group or did not fit in (tho there were no overt disagreements).

  3. Hi Marc

    I can understand that the group looms larger in the experience of Japanese students than it does in the individualised (not to say fragmented) UK culture. But I was really drawing a parallel with the idea of stages of development, which Tuckman claimed to have identified in groups.

    Does the on-line community go through something similar, and if so, what are the stages? Are they to do with the learning group, or more to do with testing out the technology and the support from tutors? I know that my status with this course--despite it being conducted in an exemplary fashion--is liminal, because I am putting in more than I am getting back. At the moment...


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