Learning to Teach Online: a Professional Development resource

Tony Bates, e-learning, distance education resources, Jul 20, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Tony Bates points to the Learning to Teach Online project and short five-minute videos designed to help new online teachers. But then he writes, "I found these clips to be so short and superficial that they really didn’t provide any real help at all." And he says "It does though fit well with what I call the amateurish, ‘it’s up to you’, professional development model of asking those with just a bit more experience to help those without any." Isn't it time, he suggests, that we offered support for online teaching "on a more professional basis, built around research into learning, and best practices in online teaching linked to theory and practical examples, with evaluation and research supporting such practices?"

But now. He writes, "For these reasons I find the professional development material from the UK’s JISC and the Australian Flexible Learning Framework much more professional and useful." Really? Now I am a great supporter of both the Flexible Learning Framework and JISC. But are these sites so much better? The Australian link is to the toolboxes - and that's it. For support there's a phone number. As for the JISC link, well, I don't know what it is. It quickly devolves into a typical JISC labyrinth of project pages and reports from 2005. Is this the best way Bates can think of to help people learn about OERs? One of my most persistent observations about online learning is that the experts in the field really don't do just a great job of doing it.
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