Saturday, April 25, 2009

Virtual Learning

Just returned from my 5th online learning conference. I blogged about the first one and lamented about the use of powerpoint. Four years later the presentations have actually improved significantly. For some reason, presenters have realized their audiences can actually read what's on the screen as well as they can.

Besides powerpoint the biggest change (maybe for me as well as others) is the continued move towards quality and engaging environments for students. "How is what we are doing helping students learn?" and "What can we do to help facilitate the learning?"

A focus for me in the coming year will be assessment for learning, giving students feedback that they can then apply to future work. In other words, feedback that helps them learn. In online learning we don't often have the luxury of seeing the process of learning. The focus is mostly on the product: do the lesson, do the assignment, next lesson. With the focus on assessment for learning students aren't 'graded' until they have had plenty of time to practice what they're supposed to learn. Assignments aren't necessarily for marks but for learning. Tests are for marks. The analogy is from sports: the practices don't count, the games do.

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