What are we going to do about the Open University?

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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Neill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 7:16 pm

Sue wrote:
and tutoring face to face or skype.

Great. the tutor group is growing.
Now we need a tutor who can Skype and we are on to a winner.
:-)
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Chris Dann on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:12 am

I still find the idea of trying to explain diagrams over the phone completely hopeless. Unless I can see what someone is explaining with diagrams, I simply cannot grasp what they are saying. It is back to the visualising aspect that I couldn't get with rich pics.
Chris
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Neill on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:32 am

Hi Chris!
We are not talking phone.
We are talking video conferencing and shared documents.
So your tutor is drawing pictures that show up on your screen as he draws them and down the left side are the video streams of the other participants.
We "nearly" got there on our T214 group task - talking with Skype and working on a Google doc together.
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Ercesuzan on Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:24 am

I think some of my past tutors would have great difficulty with that concept but as a student that's exactly what I want Neill.
All for now, take care
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Teiana on Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:01 am

the technology exists easily for all kinds of group working online*. video/typing to each other/talking online... everything. It's a tragic waste that the OU is so far behind the real world.
(*My OH uses 'teamspeak' to play world of warcraft with his friends - they have 25 person games going on where two or three people maybe have speaking access, all 25 can listen, and all 25 can type, and operate the game at the same time.)

So in an OU version (ideal world hypothesis) a tutorial would be able to be run by a tutor, online, who could speak to and be heard by an entire tutor group, who could all be 'live' typing their thoughts onto a screen which could all be read by everyone, ( it doesn't matter if typing who interupts who, because you can see everything anyway) so the tutor can either type back, draw on-screen or speak to the group.. (or be visible by video but that can be harder to do- video is ok if you are just talking, but if the tutor is trying to demonstrate things on screen or type, live video isn't so good.)

And the whole thing could be recorded for anyone who misses it. You could even have more than one tutor in at a a time. Or, the entire course team.

and it's not science fiction or something that should 'happen in 2012' or something, it is possible right this minute they could set something like that up, but <shrugs> they are dinosaurs. The situation must be the same across pretty much every OU course, if they set something up it would be invaluable to everybody.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Teiana on Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:13 am

And the whole structure of 'tutorials' could be any way at all, from one-on-one with a tutor to an unlimited group of 'observers', or a tutor could be 'observer' in a student-run group... and they could run at any time of day or night or anything. Tutors wouldn't have to spend time travelling to tutorials so they'd have more time 'in' them.
Face to face is great, mind, i am not ruling it out - just sometimes face to face isn't the most efficient use of limited time, and isn't available to everyone.
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Neill on Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:26 am

it's not science fiction or something that should 'happen in 2012'

Definitely not. I was not suggesting something impossible. I was suggesting something my 13 year old son does with his school friends on a wet afternoon.
maybe it is difficult with "old people" (over 18) but I am sure that it is much easier than using Netlogo following T214 instructions :-)

For European students like myself, this is the only way that we will ever get to "visit" a tutorial.
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Chris Dann on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:01 pm

I still remind you that some people have no internet access except through library facilities, and you will be disadvantaging them, if you do away with tutorials and have just online tutorials which would be beyond the basic technology provided by most library facilities. Also the probability would be that htese would take place in the evening when libraries are closed.
The OU started as a way of providing a furhter education to those who had no be able to go to university when they left school for ahet ever reason, and by limiting it to those with the financial access and technical knowhow, you are already developing apartheid.
There should be not change to the current ways of supplying educational meaterial and tutorials until an independant body has done some genuine in depth research to see how many students would be totally disenfranchised by such changes. If it is only one or two, it may be acceptable to make changes, but if it deters 10 or 15%, such changes should not be made unless the OU can provide the necessary equipment and funding to ensure that those people are not excluded. Some years ago, my father did an OU course in computing, and the OU provided him with a computer for the duration of the course, these days, not only would the computer be needed, but the costs of setting up internet access, the ongoing cost of paying for that, and Skype equipment, as well, if you are going down that route. A single mum, on benefits who aims to study in the library whilst her children are at school would find all the necessary expense way beyond her means, and thus her route out of poverty would be closed by your proposed measures.

It is easy for those of us who can afford our own computers and use them everyday, with the same ease and comfort with which we wield a toothbrush, to think that the 'all technology' based format is the way to go, but for many, the idea of owning their own computer is as wild a dream as owning a luxury yacht or jet is for us.

I am so concerned about this because I have a friend, Esther, who found that her ability to do an OU course was greatly restricted by her need to get online at the library. She was only allowed an hour at a time, she had no keyboard skills, having never had the opportunity to learn and no money to acquire even a basic computer. The library staff, while willing, were limited in their ability to help, and a further cut in library hours resulted in her not being able to complete her assignment on computer. She had to get permission to submit her assignments hand written, but as she said much of the resources and research she need were only available online, and she just could not do all she needed in the five hour internet access she was allowed a week, so she failed the exam and the course. This was a course she wanted to pass to allow her to get a well paid job to support herself and her disabled sister. Because they couldn't pay the rent on the house they were in, just opposite the library, they have had to move to a tiny cottage in the depth of the country and she now has no access to the library so she is not able to have another go at the course. I am convinced that the Esthers of this world should be entitled to a way out of poverty and should not be excluded because we might find it 'more convenient' to have all our course materials and tutorials online and access them from the comfort of our own homes.
Chris
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Teiana on Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:53 pm

i do sympathise with people in esthers position but i don't think these difficulties are insurmountable. Internet access has come a long way in the last few years. And the size of the OU - why shouldn't they be able to help subsidise internet access for students? The cost of a years internet access is less than the price of many courses. People should be able to get help not just with course fees etc but with all areas of access. ( and i never said abandon the idea of being able to do a course offline altogether either!! i am all for choice - i just think we should be getting the most from the technology and that an 'online' course should provide better than just a few scanned in pdf files)


Plus if you think about the time savings involved by using online versions of courses ( no delay sending out materials, no delay sending in assignments, no delay travelling to exams or tutorials etc..24/7 access to courses) it should be possible to create 'fast track versions' of some courses allowing them to be completed in a fraction of the normal time, which might save money for some people too. ( i am still not sure mind you, how you prove someone has got a qualification if nobody has ever met them etc.. but there must be a way for this to happen since tutorials etc aren't compulsory now. How do they prove it is *you* who got the qualification? How do we know, for example, that *Neill* isn't a whole gang of ghostwriters pretending to be someone, and then selling the qualification on to 'neill'. ? )
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby jamesWtc on Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:38 pm

In my line of work, I've observed many people are overly dependent on the Internet. They may sound resourceful, but the moment you remove them off the computer screen, they can't seems to be able to engage in fruitful discussion. When debating certain issues in forums or emails, they have no problems bombard you will lists of web references, usually biased information to their own thinking or illegitimate source of information. And believe me, some of these people can't even spell properly without the help of spelling checker, not to mention writing a proper letter on a piece of blank paper!

I personally think that Web can only be used to facilitate the education. Students should be encouraged to read books, write notes, and use the libraries. I don't know if it's just me, I can't remember stuff I read from the Internet for long term, but I seem to remember well everything I read from papers.
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