This week I have begun to look at issues of sustainability… for the assets I am creating, for the pace of study for myself, and for the interaction between tutors and students in distance education. I am exploring personal learning spaces, and have been reorganising the, now quite large, collection of assets and materials I am bringing together for the MSc studies. Much of this material will be useful in the long run.
Personal Learning Space
The effort in creating the materials, postings and image assets will outlive the period of study of the MSc. So, the opportunity for the IDEL11 week 6 topic to create a long term personal learning and asset space, as is now being suggested for life long e-Portfolio systems, spurred me to tidy up the web areas I have been using and bring them together. The result is a start made on a new site at http://atate.org/space/ which will give me the opportunity to make sure it can outlive availability of course blogs and systems within the University. Some thing I was already ding with my “Life Wall”. All URLs on the site and web pages are relative so the whole site can easily be archived to CD/DVD media or moved to any other hosting platform. This has been my work style since the web started and had let us outlive a number of changes of underlying web delivery technology. I decided also to adopt a new more flexible and easier to render CSS style sheet for the start of this… one that may be useful in future asset rich projects of this kind.
24/7 Tutors and Students
I have remarked to more than one tutor in the last week or two that I think the speed at which they can respond to on-line discussions and queries, even on evenings and weekends, could lead to an expectation on availability which is not sustainable. Its fine when people are enthusiastic and the technology or topic is novel. But the time taken and hours worked is not something the University of or its staff could maintain if more were involved in distance education. The immediacy of social media, the presence indication in many technologies and other aspects make the management of such interaction tricky.
Some of the course design and timetabling encourages this mode of thinking on the part of students and tutors. An example is the IDEL virtual worlds treasure hunt. There was a deadline for entries on Sunday and voting by Sunday midnight! That hardly encourages people to take a break. They need to see the entries and vote and are therefore forced back to their computers late on a Sunday evening. Its not an issue for us as individuals, especially where we have regular computer usage and good communications, but it can encourage a way of thinking and working that did not ought to be sustained for all year, or for tutors, for many years. I would make some simple changes to change the mind set a little… I would set the entries deadline to Sunday evening for those that like to think of Sunday as end of week and make voting be by end of Monday so those who do not work weekends are addressed.
Having said that I got a joint Second Prize in the treasure hunt! Were there more than 3 entries 🙂