blended learning, e-book, flipped classroom, MOOC

Lecturing in the digital age

Since I have returned to the office there is unfortunately less time to write blog posts than I had in May. However, I have been to some interesting meetings that inspire posts.

The past week two have been about lecturing in the digital age. If you are following this sort of thing you’ll know that the internet is awash with posts on how Massive Online Open Courses is to bring about a revolution in higher education. In South Africa I have not met lots of people how worry about MOOCs, but everywhere there are academics moving towards the flipped classroom and more online learning. Administrators see distance learning (online) as a grow point.

In a meeting with a major publishing outfit, it was clear that not everyone is on the same page of the e-book. They want to “rethink textbook content delivery for the digital age”. Many of my colleagues think about an e-textbook as the paper of the prescribed book, behind the gorilla glass of your tablet. It can be much more than that. It can be multimedia and interactive – even with specific feedback. This raises a bunch of questions. If you have multimedia and interactivity in the “book”, what would be the point of those e-study guides that we hear we have to develop? Maybe you are already linking to videos or using the learning management system for electronic assessment – where would that fit into the story? If everything is going to be electronic, should it be in a “book”, in different parts accessed through the LMS or packaged as a whole course at Udemy, iTunesU, or Coursera, or EdX? There is an interesting post on MOOCs as three kinds of LMS here. I suspect we will see lots of trail and error before we narrow this down to a few systems or products that work.

The publishers had an interesting answer to all this. They want to leverage all the book content that they have and add new digital content to create an ecosystem that we as academics (or our students) can subscribe to and then moderate and curate. They want to deliver this in a widget-based approach that can plug into your e-study guide or LMS or MOOC. You have to decide, do you want a core and then have all other resources available for students to explore (browser style)? Or do you want a core along with a defined path very specific advanced or remedial resources (app style)?

As cool as all this sounds I am worried that not enough lecturers are currently using a blended learning approach (a textbook, with a study guide, additional videos, or lecture capturing, along with pod casts, and on line tools, with some electronic assessment, in addition to lectures and class discussions) to know how to curate resources for the digital age. The technology mat be running far ahead of the pedagogy.

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