Monday, 26 October 2009

Didactic Teachers are expendable

The title of this post doesn't really tell the whole story, but I'm hooked on trying to have catchy, short titles (maybe twitter is effecting me too much)....

After reading Free Online Higher Education Courses?, I reflected on the whole principle of OER. In the posting, Robert Hughes argues that watching a lecture isn't as good as taking the course (in a critique of another article). This is true where the course is well run. But what about a large lecture where the didactic rules. Wouldn't watching a video or listening to an audio in the comfort of your own home be just as good. No, it would be better. So I agree that taking a course which uses a variety of pedagogical approaches can't be matched by OER. But a course where your only involvement is scribbling notes at the back of a lecture theatre can, and is, matched by an OER on the same subject. And if you get your friend to go to the lecture for you and record it, then you win any way you look at it.

In some ways, OER exposes educators who clings to the didactic as the only form of teaching. The logical step from the above scenario is that they are expendable. If it's all about the content, then the employee can produce this in cheaper ways than the expensive face-to-face model currently used. Sure, we'll still need experts. But not as many and not for the same amount of time. I don't want this. The teacher is vital to formal education - if they teach well. Hopefully, this can cause some realisation that we need to provide more than just the facts, delivered in broadcast fashion.

So educators, make yourself indispensable - design your learning incorporating collaborative and personalised pedagogies. We need you for that. So, if you think that Learning Technologies threatens your existence, you're wrong - they are your saviour.

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