Online Teaching and Learning – Crossing the Final Barrier

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // The purposes of teaching and learning have not changed over the ages but the methodologies have. The demand and need for education increased to such an extent that it was no longer economical or practical to continue with some of the very successful methodologies. The Socratic and “next to Nellie” methodologies were all about communication. The changes that took place over the years squeezed communication into a dark corner. Despite the changes in methodologies communication remains vitally important. // The digital age brought a variety of solutions to the educator and learner. Theoretically these should have increased the frequency of communication in education. E-learning tools were offered as if it was the solution that will bring the magic back to education. It didn’t bring back the magic and sadly there was even less communication. Several educators can bare witness to the fact that despite of all the marvels the digital age brought to the educational arena, communication among participants was still strained. The solutions exist but the question remains: How does one get the students, and lecturers to use it? // At TSA the lack of communication was also a problem and it concerned the custodians of the Virtual Campus. The question we had to answer was: How does one get the learners and tutors to participate? We developed a methodology called FOCUS. During the WWW conference in 2001 this methodology was presented and tested at a half-day workshop. // This paper will introduce the problem by highlighting the role of the discussion forum in teaching and learning. Different technologies will be discussed briefly and some thought will be given to the different needs that traditional and distance education institutions have pertaining to technology. The paper will then introduce the FOCUS methodology that can be used to establish and maintain communication between learners and lecturers. We will also share a few thoughts regarding the implementation model for FOCUS at institutions that wish to improve communication among learners and academics. //