Monday, January 25, 2016

Attendance Rates for Third-level Lectures are Falling Due to Online Notes via @IrishTimes #WhatsNew #342

Students have unrealistic expectations, says Dr Greg Foley in last Thursday's Irish Times, on "the level of work required to perform well in college". He points to the amount of course notes that lecturer's are making available online and the "growing dependency culture in which students rely on material posted on the internet by their lecturers". He states that we are discouraging "students from being independent learners" by doing this. So what do I think?

We use Moodle for all course resources in NCI. I can't imagine not using it for my classes - my own teaching work relies heavily on me posting not only course notes, but exercises, sample files, and links to other online resources. I also use it to communicate with students and to do things like post results of continuous assessments. In short - it is a vital tool for me that I could not do without.

Has Moodle pushed my students into a "dependency culture"? Of course - I don't know the full answer to this. But my sense of it is that students are becoming dependent on Moodle (and other CMSs). If I forget to upload notes ahead of a class it is almost certain that at least one student will email me and ask (sometime demand!) when will they be uploaded. Many students follow along my lecture with my notes on their screen (at least I think that's what most of them are doing) - some even add their own notes. 
Is Moodle to blame for a "dependency culture"?
Image Source: Moodle.Org.
The trouble with some lecturers is that they themselves attended class years ago when there was no online material and many will long for the "good ol' days" when you had to write everything down. It's almost as if we had to do it the hard way - so so should today's students. Thankfully most of us have got over this nostalgia trap and make good use of on-line resources. At least I think we do - I have seen very few course pages belonging to other lecturers. I have not ever been at a best-practice in Moodle session - we all do our own thing. I'd like to see some research on this.

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