The combination of education and technology brings new opportunities for sharing content and learning and I have a key interest in distance learning, having successfully gone through the process. Despite some obvious challenges - such as the need to maintain your skills of self reliance, generally, I have enjoyed being part of a technologically connected international learning community. Some time back in this blog, I did mention Curt Bonk's enthusiasm for on-line learning too. In my case it meant that I could pursue an academic programme whilst living overseas and crucially meant that I didn't have to give up my full-time work order to do so. In fact in many ways, the DTCE programme at Manchester University was the 'genesis' for this blog (specifically it was a unit taught at a distance on Emerging Technologies that required my thoughts and input that was the key factor in accelerating me towards becoming a regular blogger). However, it is the overall experience of distance learning in my vocational area of education that is the key discussion point here, and the fact that I am now contemplating further academic study through a blended course that involves some distance and some face-to-face contact suggests that - for some - distance programmes remain a valuable opportunity to pursue further learning. Watch this space, but yes, a doctorate is something that I most certainly would like to complete, InshAllah.
I occupy several spaces to be honest - I have worked at the chalkface as a teacher in a variety or national and international state and private settings and I have worked in consultancy and in advisory roles aiming to build capacity. Each setting has its own specifics. A good example would be how primary education is about developing the 'whole child' and how university education is about developing knowledge and understanding in specific academic areas.
We still live in a world where we expect much of our formal learning to be accredited, so that still remains an important point for pursuing a university programme in my opinion so there are some drawbacks with no-fee MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses). In fact, if it simply comes down to distribution of course notes/learning materials then there is little to differentiate it with what is already available/downloadable on the Internet in general. Interaction between students and between students and content and tutors is key and that remains yet to be seen. But since some prime universities seem to be investing time in opening up course modules to the world, then perhaps there is some to be experienced and learned hopefully. I've decided to sign up for two courses in areas of interest - education being one of them, naturally, but I wanted to have a go at Life Sciences and specifically, I am interested in learning more about Sustainable Environment.
I'm potentially excited by the possibilities, but really, is anything for free?
Watch this space.