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Internet Governance 25 November 2009

Best practice – Online Education – Maximising Efficiency

Moderator: Davina Frau-Meigs, France

Pablo (Washington Uni) – it was once said that all a university needed was a library and a printing press, but in 2009, an university only needs a networked community of faculty staff and students. 

Priyanthi (Sir Lanka, Diplo tutor) explained how the Diplo Foundation provides online line learning resources for students supported by tutors who encourage and mentor students through their studies and encourage a weekly online chat session to offer some interaction between the students and their tutor. It allows direct engagement in a discussion about the topic between the tutor and the students. Problems related to the course or with studies are also shared with other students who can contribute to the problem solving activity.

Carolina Rossini (Brazil, Diplo tutor) explained the networked economy (Y Benkler (2006) The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedoms). She impressed on the participants that Learning is not automatic, one has to learn how to learn (reflection, experimentation, building concepts, practices, etc). Open Source has three sections: (1) learning content (2) tools eg software, learning management systems, content development tools, online learning communities and (3) implementation resources – creative commons license, and other licenses to use resources legitimately. Lessons learned include: implementation needs to be relevant nation to nation; it needs to be relevant to different institutional cultures; and we need to build capacity inside institutions (see http://opened.creativecommons.org ).

Charity  Gamboa (Texas) explained the Mozilla Foundation Education Exoerience. She is a teacher at the South Plains Academy Lubbock Texas working with Alternative Education students who have not been successful with mainstream schooling. The programme they undertake is open participation where the goal is for students to be engaged in directed learning. They are given task sheets which encourage them to achieve the required learning outcomes through their own online investigative  discovery. The teacher is encouraged to innovate (to deviate from traditional methods which have not been successful for these students in the past). Learning is self-based where students are directed to specifically identified sites to seek the information they need in order to learn more about the topic. Information is therefore up to date, relevant and raises the quality of education for that student. The teaching programmes are provided by Mozilla but they are supplemented by other online resources which are basically reused and remixed. There are lots of different resources available. Teachers are given a checklist to ascertain the quality of the site to be offered as a teaching resource for the students. The emphasis is on learning to learn.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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