29 September 2011

A new project

This week I’ve started working with a new group of Australian academics. As always, the first couple of days has been spent learning who they are, what their research interests are, what they think about teaching, and why they do the work they do.

As always, the group is fascinating.

This particular group is working on moving one of their face-to-face graduate programs online. They are working through the issues associated with changing the mode of delivery from a traditionally delivered blended model to an almost-completely online model.  To make things really interesting, they are doing this in the middle of a change of institutional Learning Management System. They have been using a vendor-supported, fairly mainstream LMS, and are in the process of moving across to one of the open source applications.

So … the group is learning how to use the new LMS, working out how to move their teaching artefacts from the old LMS to the new one in the most efficient way, and at the same time exploring the advantages and constraints of a new mode of teaching.

Fortunately for all of us, they are – by and large – open to new ideas, willing to discuss their concerns and expectations openly, and very intelligent.

The real reason I work with teachers, particularly in the higher education sector, is because the brains come in one size – hefty. Of course, along with the immense thinking power often comes the outsize egos … but that just makes life more interesting.

This project will give me an opportunity to try out some of my new ideas on a new audience – and a chance to refine my approach and my own teaching materials. I’m looking forward to it.