Will Technology Kill the Academic Calendar?

Marc Parry, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Oct 17, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The Chronicle discovers self-paced learning. This in itself is somewhat astonishing, as self-paced learning has been around for generations. As Tony Bates says, "this is an old chestnut in distance education, long pre-dating online learning." When I worked for Athabasca University, 1987-94, the majority of my students were self-paced. They would enrol with the university, start whenever they wanted, and would finish at their own pace. And it's a surprise that the Chronicle quotes Randy Garrison as saying "Educationally, it's not defensible." Not simply because I think it is defensible. I think he must have been referring to something else; Garrison is a long-time colleague of Terry Anderson, who now works at Athabasca. Technology will, eventually, kill the academic calendar. Bates says, "for students somewhere in the middle, a ‘moving walkway' program may be just what they need." That's what I create with my serialized feeds program, which can lead people through online courses.
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