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.
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.
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.
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.