Colloquium #1 Annabel Astbury

The first colloquium provided rich insights into the work of Annabel Astbury and the ABC Splash website. They took up the challenge to provide high quality resources to the education community, linking reliable Australian content through Scootle and the Australian Curriculum. The site reflects the changing educational resources landscape and resources are pitched at a level readily accessible to primary and secondary students.  The take-up is most popular during the school week, and as the site’s analytical data illustrates, the videos games and competitions are motivating, and usage is increasing. Annabel admits there are challenges in providing quality resources for a relatively small market, if we are to be compared to PBL in the USA or BBC in the UK.

I found Annabel’s thoughts on the relinquishing of control by educators very timely. Students are engaging with the games and competitions, despite the general lack of prizes or extrinsic rewards. Perhaps this is a reflection of the flattening of hierarchy in schools, the encouraging of students to explore resources without constant direction. That would be my optimistic view. It is certainly a terrific example of the art of the possible – drawing together of excellent curriculum-linked resources that are engaging and easy to access.

 

Flexible, blended, and online learning

Frequently used terms such as flexible learning, online learning and e-learning “are understood in very diverse ways by providers and clients.Consequently what they do under these headings, and the judgements they make about the outcomes and outputs vary greatly” (KPMG Consulting Australia & LifeLong Learning Associates, 2002, p. 82).

Todhunter’s paper illustrates the lack of clarity university students may perceive in their understanding of the above terms. There exists, however, a technological imperative to do online what is possible in a proximate context.  Universities who advocate distance learning, MOOCs and the like, envision the potential technology affords. Todhunter points out the disparity between the definition of an “on-campus” student and an “off-campus” one. Does one who is on site physically, seated in the cafe but not the lecture theatre, constitute an on-campus student? Watching his lecture in his own time rather than at the appointed time? The question Todhunter raises is one of semantics.

 

Adelaide Uni Hub - 16 copy

In the secondary situation, students gather in groups of similar ages, in a physical location, reined around that location by teachers and bells, packing and unpacking bags, beginning and ending lessons in different disciplines. Technology is cornered into the same pattern, with the LMS as the new blackboard and the iPad as the new slate. The potential to create a more dynamic virtual and physical space for learning is always there, but the importance of the forming of a mindset for change, for an emerging collaborative and connected culture, remains latent in the shared philosophy of what constitutes secondary education.

Todhunter, B (2013) LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), p.232-252