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Tim Herrick
89 followers -
Working with mature students at the University of Sheffield
Working with mature students at the University of Sheffield

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My big question about TEL:

Who is it for?

OK, so it looks like a small question, but I hope it has depths...is TEL (especially MOOCs) for those who are traditionally excluded from mainstream education, for reasons of geography, economics, accessibility and whatever else?  Is it for our "usual" students (accepting there will be a wide range of "usual"), to add value to their experiences, improve their learning, or offer alternatives?  Is it for teachers, to make some more mundane aspects of their working lives a little easier, and to increase the range of impact they can have?  Is it for what is known, I believe, as "the man", where a superficial engagement with education, even in prestigious forms such as Harvard, is taken to be comparable to studying there for real?  In other words, is it a way of focusing education upon the development of knowledge and skills, rather than a more holistic process of growing up, enjoying new social experiences, making connections with other people etc?  Or is it for all those wonderful geeks and wizards behind the software, who, faced with the possibility of connecting much of the world's population with many aspects of the sum of human knowledge, think that we should?

While the answer almost certainly lies between and beyond these suggestions, I guess the last formulation comes closest to representing my underlying concern - just because we can develop MOOCs and other bells-and-whistles forms of learning, does that mean we should?  David's post talks about more students bringing their own devices into learning situations, and that's something I see as well.  The concern I know some colleagues have is that student expectations, however clearly articulated or otherwise, shouldn't be the only determining influence on the education they experience: if we think reading books and sitting in lectures is the best way for someone to learn, then we should be able to make that case (and on stronger grounds than "this is what we've always done").  So part of my reason for taking this MOOC is to get a sense of what it's like at the user end, and what kind of learning it enables for me.

Finally, a quick bio, because that might shed light on some of the points above: I work in the University of Sheffield, in the School of Education, and a lifelong learning unit.  Some of the work I do is with mature students taking their first steps back into formal learning after (not necessarily happy) school experiences; some is with traditional university undergraduates; and some is with postgraduate professionals, doing different things around learning, teaching, and assessment.  I teach bits and pieces about technologies and learning to both staff and students, and am interested in some of the philosophical connections between advocates for MOOCs, anti-schooling theories of the 1960s and 70s, and older forms of pedagogical radicalism.

I look forward to reading other people's backgrounds and responses in due course!

Afternoon all - and cheers, David, for setting this up.  Like others, I am new to G+, and unlike others, new to MOOCs, so this is all somewhat of an adventure.  I'll now mooch (that's my pun for the day) over to Week One activities, and think of something coherent to say there!
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