Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Week Eight: Issues with flexible learning - The modern Internet

What are some of the issues that the video, the debate, and other participants in this course highlight that you think are significant in terms of what the modern Internet has to offer to flexible learning?

Now I think this is an interesting question. When I first read this question (and before I had read any of the resources) my first thoughts were around access. Access to an Internet speed that would enable the user to download large files quickly. And then my thoughts moved on to how slow our broadband is and how its not actually available to all areas in this country and if students want to participate in courses that require them to watch YouTube clips and don't have a fast Internet connection then they have to go to a internet cafe and pay extra to allow them to participate in certain courses. Now for some this is YAY! time away from home, for others it "when do I get time to do that?" especially for those who have children and who complete their work at night when they are in bed (because they've enrolled in the course due to its flexible delivery!).

Imagine my surprise when reading the resources and realising this wasn't really what the question was bout. As I was reading through the debate between David Weinberger and Andrew Keen I was finding myself agreeing with both arguments. I find it an interesting concept that with web 2.0 tools we can contribute to a body of knowledge that others will then use (rightly or wrongly) as evidence or back up for their own learning. On one hand I think this is a fantastic idea. All of a sudden the pot of knowledge is endless and we get to learn and contribute endlessly, on the other hand how can we verify what we have accessed is creditable? Weinberger argues there are experts who have already done this for us, though my question is how do we know they are experts? My other view is with all this information going onto the internet we run the risk of not being able to find what we actually want. As people develop blogs etc ensuring they put certain words into their names so when others search for these words their site will the first on the list this then makes it more frustrating for those of us who aren't as computer literate or savvy and just got "I give up" when confronted with 12,000 hits to a certain search!!!

1 comment:

Leigh Blackall said...

The issue of access is very pressing. 67% of NZrs are not connected to the Internet!! NZStats 2007. They express it differently. 33% are not connected, 34% are connected through dial up speeds, and 33% on 256k or faster. (By some international standards 256k does not rate as broadband, so our number of people disconnected from this learning opportunity could be said to be much much higher).

As for the 'expert' issue. The question applies in real life too. How can we be sure that this person we identify as teacher, and has been working as a teacher for 10-20 years, is actually a worthy expert? We trust the peers around them, the organisation that employs them, their ability to make sense, and by checking that what they say correlates with what others say. All of that can be more easily quantified online. Trouble is, by and large our teachers are not online, so we can't actually check how expert or not they are, but we can check what the offline teachers are saying with the online teachers.. and so enters the tension and big problems.
Do you think it is acceptable therefore, that a teacher remain offline these days? Could we be reassured of the online expertise if we could say that all NZ teachers had an active and engaged online presence?