Oct 7, 2010

Cooperative Freedom in Guadalajara

I recently gave a keynote presentation in Guadalajara titled Cooperative freedom, transparency and student profiles in online education. The Powerpoint presentation is available at http://www.slideshare.net/MortenFP/key-note-guadalajara

I’m also conducting a workshop where the participants are challenged to: Develop a Transparent Learning Object related to cooperative freedom and transparency. The participants are invited to share their work in http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooperative-Freedom/111226748907566
During my Keynote Presentation I received these questions which there was too little time to answer. So, I have answered them in the following.

Q: Can we download your book?
A: Yes my book Online Education and Learning Management systems is available at: http://issuu.com/mfpaulsen/docs/onlineeducation

Q: Can Mexican students study at NKI?
A: All NKI courses are in Norwegian, so our students must understand Norwegian. We have Norwegian students living in more than 40 countries and some students in Denmark and Sweden since the languages in these countries are quite similar to Norwegian.

Q: Do you have foreign teachers working at NKI?
A: We have Norwegian teachers who live in Denmark, Finland, Senegal, Sweden, England and Thailand. At the moment we are also recruiting Danish and Swedish teachers for a new study program in Multimedia journalism for students in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Q: How are the individual progress plans constructed?
A: All NKI courses are divided in study units and a course could for example have six study units. The students are asked to enter a planned submission date for each study unit. Most students enroll in a program, which means that they often work with several courses in parallel.

Q: What size are the steps in a personal plan?
A: Most students are part time students with work and family responsibilities. I would say that students typically spend from one week to one month on a study unit.

Q: How flexible can the plans be?
A: The students can start a course whenever they want and finish within two years. If the need more time, they have to pay extra tuition fees.

Q: What kind of searching features are there for learning partners?
A: The search tool is not especially advanced yet. It is primarily developed to search for learning partners in specific courses and geographic areas.

Q: How do you evaluate if the learning partnership is working according to the personal plans?
A: So far we have not had enough resources to conduct thorough research on the effects and outcome of the learning partner services. Our evaluations tell us that many students appreciate the learning partner service and their learning partners. One may hypnotize that students with learning partners perform better than students without, but we have not made any research on this.

Q: Do you have teachers working as cooperative partners also?
A: We have discussed if it could be useful to establish a “teaching partner service”, but decided to establish a peer evaluation project instead. In this project the teachers systematically evaluate the feedback their peers have given to some randomly chosen student assignments. We hope this project can help them improve their teaching in a cooperative way.

Q: How does the cooperative learning work between learning partners?
A: There are no formal obligations, requirements or expectations attached to learning partners. We don’t want them to be dependent on each other, but the idea is that they can help and support each other reaching their learning goals.

Q: Has your model been replicated in the English speaking world?
A: As far as I know, there are no other institutions that offer individual progress plans and learning partner systems similar to NKI’s services. There are however institutions around the world that are focusing on individual pacing. One recent article that could be of interest is “Self-paced Learners Meet Social Software: An Exploration of Learners’ Attitudes, Expectations and Experience” by Terry Anderson, Bruno Poellhuber and Ross McKerlich. The article is available at http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/Fall133/anderson_poellhuber_mcKerlich133.html

Q: How can technology improve self management for students who are accustomed to studying in a traditional education system?
A: Since NKI’s learning management system knows the individual progress plans of all the students, it can follow up the students individually according to their plans.

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