Remember when you were at uni?

The tertiary teaching model which many of us experienced as learners was very centred round transmitting information, usually through lectures. Biggs and Tang (2007) identify that this way of teaching focuses on what the student is and what the students’ responsibilities are. So students attend lectures, listen and take notes, do assignments, sit exams – the onus is on the student to perform, in response to one-way delivery of information.

When considering what online taught means, it is tempting to focus on what the teacher does in order to transmit concepts and understandings. Rather than doing this face to face, what does it look like if we transfer it to the online environment? The Blended Learning Moodle page answering ‘What does online taught mean?’ offers some suggestions around how teachers might give input online, create online activities and support learners at their point of need.

However, Biggs and Tang (2007) identify both of these foci (in bold above) as constituting deficit models, and advocate for a focus on what the student does and how well the intended outcomes are achieved. Teaching becomes student-centred and the teacher takes responsibility for identifying appropriate outcomes and setting up activities to meet the required outcomes. The teacher has to decide how they are going to find out if the outcomes have been reached at an appropriate level.

So how does this help us define what ‘online taught’ might look like? Focusing on the student in an online environment suggests the following question as starting points for ‘online taught’.

  1. Thinking about the class/group of learners: What online activities will help students to meet the intended learning outcomes?
  2. Thinking about individuals: What does a student have to do online to demonstrate his/her understanding?

More about this in my next blog post where I discuss the concept of online presence and what it might look from a teacher perspective. In the meantime, read Mark’s recent blog post here for more details on social imaginaries as an important concept for making changes to what we do in education.

Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at university (Society for research into higher education).

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