As with many presentations or lectures, I find that in most instances I error on the side of caution by having too much material in the outline for the class or presentation. I think many of us do this to prepare for that rare case where we have a group of learners who are extremely disengaged with the process and subject. The short seminar, ‘Why has the Promise of On-line Learning Failed Financially’, presented on Tuesday evening, October 23, was no exception to this trend of too much material.
However, what is important is to be flexible with the timing and pace of the outline, and let the audience explore the subject through posing questions and following the questioning that arises throughout the process. As stated in the seminar outline the topic being addressed is extremely broad and impossible to cover in a single one-hour session. Thus, the intent was to provide the learners/audience with an introduction to the business side of distance education, and through various cost examples provide some insights into the complexities of distance education.
Although the session was fast paced, I think the objectives were achieved as evident by the level of dialog that occurred during the session. Also, I was encouraged to see that I was able to discuss all the points referenced on the outline. This was achieved as the class members and I explored and discussed the different technologies used in distance education and how some contribute quickly towards cost recovery and others fail. However, while the discussion and exploration of the topic lead to a high level of engagement, by most participants, we did not have time to explore in more detail an actual case.
This was a little frustrating for the class as I tried to do the group exercise at the end of the evening without enough time for explanation or reflection on the process. Many felt lost in trying to rush through the exercise and I did not have time to assist in the process. Also, as we ran short on time the session’s assessment exercise had to be omitted. Although I offered to receive the class member’s comments by e-mail, and have an on-going discussion with them, no one has yet sent any remarks or questions.
Beyond these reflections I feel that the session was more lecture based than I would normally like. This of course I anticipated, as most students in the class are not involved in distance education. And although they had access to some readings on the topic, in general they had no basic mental schema to build upon. However, I was very pleased with how many class members became involved in the discussion after a slow start in the first 15 minutes. Further, I must, as in all my teaching experiences and presentations, attempt to know and use everyone’s names.
This is an on-going strategy that I need to continually work on. In general I feel the session went well and the students were engaged in the discussion and exploration of the topic. Also, the availability of the white board assisted in drawing attention to the magnitude of the costs involved with distance education. In terms of the readings, however, I think an article or a summary outline that is more introductory would be beneficial in providing a basic background on the topic.