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  1. […] recently, I read Tony Bates’ analysis of productivity and online learning.  There were so many issues in it, I could not possibly tackle them all here. His focus is on ways […]

  2. Lisa M Lane
    December 27, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    I wonder about lectures in this context. What about the idea of lectures as modeling the continual reframing of information?

    I couldn’t fit it all here, so I blogged a bit –

    • Tony Bates
      December 28, 2013 - 2:07 pm

      Thanks, Lisa. You make some excellent points in your blog post in response to me (I recommend all readers to view Lisa’s post at:

      I am not arguing that lectures have no place at all. What I am criticizing is the standard 13 times a week lecture-based course. Modelling through lectures can be useful, but it is the faculty member doing the interpretation. Wouldn’t it be better to provide direct guidelines and criteria for the students, to enable them do the finding and interpretation themselves, and use your time for guiding and evaluating their responses?

      For me, productivity is as much about getting the students to do the work – they are the ones who need to do the learning.

      I’d really like to hear from other instructors regarding this argument, as I very much respect specialists’ knowledge of their own subject area, and the needs of that subject area – and thanks, Lisa, for responding in such an important way

  3. bigonlinetraining
    December 31, 2013 - 2:46 am

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  4. Sheri Oberman
    January 1, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Thanks for writing this piece Tony.

    I agree with your reply to Lisa regarding lectures. Moreover, the idea of setting out criteria or co-constructing criteria with students to engage in conversations, debates and applications gets at more directly the academic literacy under construction.

    Sadler (2010) who wrote extensively on assessment in higher education, goes so far as to suggest that given criteria with exemplars, and the successive approximations toward mastery in the context of a community of learners, the teacher may become much less central.

    Assessment in academia strays far off the mark of ideal practices for maximizing learning. So many courses/instructors/programs fail to work with students to understand criteria, provide mutually understood descriptive feedback and feed-forward based on the criteria, develop the peer group to animate standards in the criteria and share in a community of practice, allow for student self-assessment and reflections of learning needs and goals as in a portfolio, knowledge surveys, contributions toward tests of knowledge etc. Assessments, such as the oral exam, which caps off many doctoral programs often fail the test of reliability and validity.

    Grades also deteriorate productivity in addition to often violating principles of assessment through failing to link back to learning outcomes and the most reliable, recent and valid evidence of same. Instead the mark is based on summing test scores, participation, and projects or whatever is in the grade book.

    The future of learning, online or otherwise, will see the instructor become skilled at imparting assessment criteria, examining exemplars with students, develop a community of learners, allow for multiple opportunities to hit the achievement mark, develop learning plans and learning goals with students, developing student’s capacity to self-assess and to appreciate sound, productive assessment and ask for same.

    • Tony Bates
      January 1, 2014 - 10:48 am

      Many thanks, Sheri – great comment

  5. Jason Shaw
    March 30, 2014 - 11:44 am

    Where to start,

    Measuring success… I’m not sure this is anything new, just something that isn’t being done. Sadly, in 12 years, working in online education, I’ve witnessed no formal formative and summative evaluation process. Basically, throw a feedback survey in the course, and rely on the students. Attitudes towards a process that is formal and structured, that evaluations the process of developing, and the course itself creates endless value. For instance, it could help understand the costs, ensure that we “exploit the benefits of both face-to-face and online teaching and learning, rather than merely adding technology to the classroom model.” (Bates, Sangara, 2011, 92), etc…

    Now I do see great opportunity with online videos in the course. For instance, having it directly linked to quizzes or discussion boards. For example, 3 minutes in the video may ask you a question like ‘tell me a time’ and your answer is sent to a discussion board for others to see and discuss.

    However, that doesn’t fall into the sustainable product of utilizing ubiquitous information. Truly, I see a time where we are only using YouTube for our videos, Linkedin for our ePortfolios/discussions, and the LMS will merely be for ‘private’ discussions or quizzes… act as a middle man that directs the learners.

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