So you’re about to start teaching online: read this first!

We’re all now pretty familiar with online education, but there are still plenty of us out there who have yet to experience the challenges and joys of teaching online. You just might be in this position, and you may also have been asked (cajoled/bribed/ordered/…) to join in the fun.

However you are feeling about online teaching (excited/anxious/sanguine/…), if you haven’t done it before, then get yourself started by reading Tony Bates’ excellent new monograph The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors. Note the use of ‘monograph’ – this is not a heavy tome to digest, but a short, sharp document of a mere 37 pages that just might (will!) save you plenty of wasted hours of development dilemmas if you follow the sage advice. And if it really gets you going, you’ll probably feel inclined to move on to Tony’s more substantial (500 page) offering, Teaching in a Digital Age (again, a free download).

The overall aim of the monograph is to:

address some common myths and misconceptions about online learning and online teaching, and in particular to help you make decisions about whether or not to do online learning in the first place, and if so, what you need to know to do it well. Indeed, in some places, I suggest certain conditions where you are better off not doing it.

What are the 10 fundamentals anyway? Tony presents them as 10 Guides, based on a series of posts from his website:

  1. What is online learning?
  2. Isn’t online learning worse than face-to-face teaching?
  3. ‘Aren’t MOOCs online learning?’
  4. ‘What kinds of online learning are there?’
  5. When should I use online learning?
  6. How do I start?
  7. Why not just record my lectures?
  8. Won’t online learning be more work?
  9. How can I do online learning well?
  10. Ready to go

It’s immediately obvious that you don’t have to read all 10: go straight to the topic which most concerns you. Don’t neglect number 9 though; it’s pivotal. And it’s reassuring to see the good old ADDIE model of design and development still in use (see p. 15 for a nice infographic from Flexible Learning Australia).

 Any quibbles? I have none of substance, though I would have liked a better title. It sounds a tad grandiose (not like Tony at all!), and I suspect that it’s been foisted on him by the publisher (the usually sensible Contact North). Wouldn’t a simple title like Guide to Online Teaching be sufficient?

Enough of my needless grumbling: enjoy!

A well-informed look at Open Education history

To make sense of our field, every now and then we need to step back and take an historical glimpse at how we’re going. If you don’t already do it, then when you scan the journal contents pages for historical contributions and meta analyses. In terms of the recent history of open education and the emergence of MOOCs, you won’t find a better summary than that by the inimitable Stephen Downes. Continue reading

“The future of the academic book is in your hands”

The title quote is the final sentence in the Introduction to The Academic Book of the Future, a compilation of contributions with messages for academics, publishers, librarians and booksellers. It’s an outcome of the machinations of a group devoted to a “two-year AHRC[Arts & Humanities Research Council]-funded research project exploring the future of the academic book.Continue reading

Instructional designers: here’s a topic I know something about

Yes, a bold claim, I’ll admit. But not only did I work as an instructional designer (or whatever alternative title you want to use) but I also did my PhD on instructional designers. In essence, what I was investigated was the question of what instructional designers do. Continue reading

Another word I didn’t know: ‘editathon’

Editathon  I’m not too fussed that I didn’t know this word. It’s a new(ish) one, dreamed up just a few years ago to identify “an event where people develop open knowledge around a specific topic”. I chanced upon it when browsing the site for OER16, the 7th Open Educational Resources Conference, Open Culture, held on the 19th-20th April 2016 at the University of Edinburgh. One of the presentations outlined the journey of a group of 50 people who jointly created pages in Wikipedia by means of said ‘editathon’. Continue reading