Elluminate

Feb. 24th, 2010 08:42 pm
vyvyanx: (Default)
[personal profile] vyvyanx
In spite of the lack of flying cars etc., right now I feel like I'm really living in the future. I just participated in an interactive online OU tutorial (on the Riemann tensor), with students from Cornwall to Edinburgh, in which we were able to listen to our tutor, answer and ask questions in a text window, read and write on a shared whiteboard, respond to instant polls, and communicate our happiness/confusion/whatever via temporary emoticons. The whole thing required no more specialised equipment than a computer and headphones, and could be saved for later viewing. I liked the experience very much, and expect this sort of thing to only improve as time goes on. Already though, it reminds me of old SF descriptions of futuristic education.

Date: 2010-02-24 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twigletzone.livejournal.com
Oh don't. My new bank card expires in 2015. That's not just the future, that's, like, never going to happen. Isaac Asimov wrote books set then!

Date: 2010-02-25 10:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
I think the most disturbing thing like that I found recently was a government site which will tell you the exact date in the 2030s-2040s when you will be entitled to a State Pension!

Date: 2010-02-25 08:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aiwendel.livejournal.com
1970's book of 2010 has some rather apt things in....

http://2010book.tumblr.com/post/311309377/preliminaries

Date: 2010-02-25 10:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
Oh, that was cool. I think I've got his book Fifth Planet somewhere (which he wrote with his dad Fred Hoyle, noted astronomer).

Date: 2010-02-25 02:58 pm (UTC)
lnr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnr
Aw, that's lovely!

Date: 2010-02-25 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nassus.livejournal.com
That's pretty much been my whole teaching course as I've been doing it via distance education and a lot of the students are from all over Australia and some from overseas. You start to appreciate good distance ed teachers and facilities like that.

Date: 2010-02-25 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
I've been involved in the OU's distance education for years, but it's only now that this sort of online interactive stuff is getting going properly (I guess you couldn't assume that most students would have broadband a few years ago). When I started teaching with the OU in 2003, we were still shipping people VHS and audio cassettes as part of their study materials :-)

Date: 2010-02-25 10:09 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Horrible, isn't it? My last course had only two real tutorials and then rest were 'online tutorials' (week-long and via forum rather than video-conferencing). It was hateful hateful hateful. There's no substitute for face-to-face contact, nattering to the tutor on the way out for the tea break, nodding to them as you unlock your bicycle, and so on.

It's such a horrible let-down after my first course, way back in the past (AKA 2001) which not only had a real tutorial every month but also a summer school where you got to actually meet people from all over the country! It was great.

Given (for cost reasons) the OU is only going to go farther down this path of distance learning meaning no human contact whatsoever, I'm glad I've finished. I just wish I didn't leave with such a bad taste in my mouth.

S.

Date: 2010-02-25 10:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
I'm still going to residential school this summer to do EM experiments for a week; the OU aren't ending all face-to-face contact. Unfortunately for many subjects, tutorial attendance is very poor, and for low-population third level courses and low population-density regions (like the Scottish Highlands!) in particular it's not going to be practical to organise monthly IRL meetings, desirable though they are in many ways. The last non-revision face-to-face tutorial I went to in Cambridge for a course in my physics degree was attended by just three people out of a tutor group of about 20; the Elluminate tutorial last night had 19 attendees. With those sorts of differences in take-up of support, I don't think it would really be fair for the OU to continue insisting on IRL tutorials exclusively. But I agree it's good to retain an element of direct contact with tutors and other students, even if only the odd day school for revision.

Date: 2010-02-25 10:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow. I didn't realise that. I don't think I ever went to a tutorial with less than eight or ten attendees -- if I did it was rare. Is it a sciences thing, do you think?

S.

Date: 2010-02-25 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
Hm, in an indirect way, perhaps. AFAICT from my own experiences and discussions on tutor forums in the past, women are more likely to go to tutorials than men, and young and elderly people more likely than middle-aged people. (Why that is, I guess may be due to other time commitments or perceived commitments, and/or prior expectations about the nature of teaching and/or typical personality differences e.g. sociability.) Since OU arts and sciences courses have different student demographics (e.g. more women and retired people doing arts, more men and middle-aged people doing sciences) this indirectly affects typical tutorial attendance. And since OU student demographics shift over time as well (e.g. more younger people now choosing the OU over conventional universities because of financial considerations) the average tutorial attendance also changes over time.

Of course these are very generalised average statements - specific regions, subjects and tutors all have their own influence on how likely students are to go to face-to-face tutorials as well.

Date: 2010-02-25 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That rings true: most (but by no means all) of the attendees at those tutorials were women in the more mature age bracket.

S.

Date: 2010-02-25 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanelwa.livejournal.com
EM like electron microscope, or electromagnetic?

Date: 2010-02-25 11:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
Electromagnetic.

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