In my first post for 2012, I want to challenge a common misconception about online learning. I find it interesting that free content is often misrepresented as 'free education'.
There are a large number of providers - most notably the Open University in the UK - providing free content online. This is not the same as a free education. If it was, it would mean the existence of libraries equates to providing free education in a paper-based world.
Neither the Open University nor MIT offer active teaching or assessment through their free portals. The Khan Academy does provide some teaching, but there are no assessments or feedback. It is the teaching and assessing that costs money and this is what students pay for.
Undertaking self-study without the support of an interactive teaching environment does not deliver excellent student outcomes. Free content does not provide a high quality learning experience. You might read a book and learn something from it. But this cannot be compared to the value and quality of education gained through an interactive, student-focused, learning environment.
Let's take a simple example of training a puppy. Let's call our pup Max. We read a book on dog training and get started. However, we quickly discover that training a puppy is harder than we expected. Our book doesn't have all the answers we need. We don't feel confident or skilled at dog training.
So, we decide to take Max to puppy school. There we work with an experienced animal trainer, we talk to other dog owners and we are assessed to ensure ongoing progress. It is a genuine learning environment for both owner and pup. As a result, we leave puppy school with new skills and confidence and Max's training is well underway.
The importance of a high quality learning environment is what underpins the Swinburne Online approach. Our focus is on providing a supportive, interactive online learning experience, with ongoing feedback and assessment. We have a student-focused, personalised approach to teaching. We know positive student outcomes and experience are directly related to teaching quality. We have skilled e-learning advisors to support and facilitate successful online learning.
Because we are not just providing content, we expect our online students to have the same excellent student experience and graduate satisfaction as our on-campus students. And that is the Swinburne Online difference.
Professor Shirley Leitch
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Connect with Swinburne Online
- Twitter: @swin_online
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/swinburneonline
- You Tube: www.youtube.com/swinburneonline
- Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/company/swinburne-online
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