A techie’s view

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Wow! Just WOW!

22 April 2012 by philhart · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

My Thanks To …

My thanks go to Brad, Caitlin, Erika, Ethan, Jayden, Jordan, Jo and Micky for contributing so much to the Extraordinary Learning For A Digital Age (ELFADA) project.

Some Background

This project is two runs of an intensive course lasting four weeks. It is funded through the National VET E-Learning Strategy (NVELS). The project’s driving force (Jo) has written a detailed post about it.

The project is an adjunct to the Certificate in General Education for Adults (CGEA) course. Student achievements in the project are carried forward to their CGEA work. One of the central aims of the project was to encourage students to develop a habit of studying, and to be able to use this effectively during their CGEA work.

The first run of the project succeeded beyond all expectation.

“How Come?”

The Mechanics

Before explaining why the project so far has been so successful, it is worthwhile looking at the mechanics.

Each day’s work was structured around three sessions:

  • 09:00 to 11:00, where lecturers present material
  • 11:00 to 14:30, where students could work, and there was always a lecturer available to answer questions
  • 14:30 to 15:00, to round off the day, and answer any outstanding questions

All contact with the students was virtual: there was no face-to-face contact.

What Happened

The use of a virtual environment freed students from having to be in a certain place at a certain time. One of the students had to miss parts of some sessions due to prior variable commitments. Another student was traveling as a passenger in a car during one of the sessions. The need to be inside any particular pile of bricks became void.

Students also worked to their own schedules. They performed research, undertook individual creative work, sent the lecturers e-mails, and posted on their blogs at times that suited them. In return, they understood that the lecturers would always be available during the stated hours, and that, provided it suited the lecturers’ own schedules, the lecturers would provide feedback outside those stated hours. It is a complete break from the factory model of learning.

Readers could be forgiven for thinking that the social sense was one of nine isolated individuals with very little in the way of an esprit de corps. In fact, quite the opposite happened. Despite the separation in space, there was a very powerful sense of social bonding between everybody who participated.

A Vision for the Future

What I have seen here is a radical experiment that successfully challenges the notion that “the [physical] classroom” is the only way to achieve educational success. It is a way forward for people who are physically isolated, and for whom the strictures of Monday-to-Friday 09:00-15:30 are unacceptable.

I look forward to seen this model being developed and used to great benefit in the future.

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Brad Ovenell-Carter

    Last year I was head at THINk Global School. We had no building to call home. Instead, we brought international students together to live and study in three different international cities each year. (Stockholm, Sydney and Beijing last year.) We ran a 3:1 program so iPhones, iPads and MacBook Pros were our bricks and a custom-built ELGG-based LMS was our mortar. I think I spent about half my time in what you’d call a regular classroom–the rest was in parks, on boats, museums, offices…and we rehab an entirely flexible daily schedule because we were together 24/7.

    The informal learning that went on in this setting was astoundingly powerful.

  • philhart

    Hello Brad,

    Thanks for that. I feel that this model of learning deserves greater publicity. It may face opposition from educational “traditionalists”, but I suspect its advantages will cause a significant shift in the delivery of learning in the next 20 years or so.

  • Jayden

    And a big thanks to you as well for helping to run the Extraordinary Learning For A Digital Age (ELFADA) project. We all miss not having you. So how have you been, we have not heard much for ages? (for some reason your blog is not letting me sign in) Hope to hear from you soon. Jayden Glassby :)

  • philhart

    Hello Jayden,

    Thanks for your wonderfully positive comment :) . I have been a bit busy lately: I have two projects on the go at the moment: quoting for a piece of software development, and getting involved in curriculum development.

  • Jayden

    I have a question Phil. Do you know of any free video editing software? I was going to make some video’s but I need a program that I can write stuff in to the video. Thanks :)

  • philhart

    Hello Jayden,

    Two options come to mind: Windows Movie Maker (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows7/products/features/movie-maker) and VideoLan Movie Creator (http://www.videolan.org/vlmc/).

    Please let me know how you get on. :)

  • Jayden

    Thanks Phil I will have a look. :)

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