23 December 2009

Before the New Year Starts

Almost as soon as I began Paradox Educational Services as a face-to-face support for students in online courses, I began to be exposed to the possibility of online support for online instruction.
The basic premise of many of the current online offerings in higher education is that the best education online presents the same information covered in the classroom for those who can't get courses in a classroom. Much of what has been written in 2009 about online education involves:
  1. Refusing the paradigm of the classroom as the 'ideal' learning environment, and
  2. Rejecting the paradigm of education as primarily a process of information transfer.
In the place of these two paradigms, educators have been exploring the dynamics of learning:
  1. Freed from temporal and spatial proximity, and
  2. Incorporating community (collaboration).
In the fall semester, I was asked to teach a combined section of two English courses in the University Preparation program at a local institution. Along the way, I was invited to participate in an online course called MOODLE for Teachers. The course explored both the tools available for online course management and the possibility of shifting education method away from the traditional paradigms discussed above. As the semester went on, I began to wonder whether the only possibility for support of online education involved face-to-face meetings. Many students in the area not only find themselves needing additional support for ITV and online courses, but they also find themselves without sufficient time to put one more real-time meeting into their lives. This has made it quite hard to schedule group meetings to allow collaboration and the formation of learning communities using traditional means. This difficulty plus the expansion of tools for online synchronous meetings gives rise to the possibility that clients might reasonably be supported in this way.
I am open to considering this possibility, enough to say 'yes' to a recent email enquiry requesting online support for a course where the student is hours away from me and could only be served online. I will continue to report on progress in this area in future.

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