Sunday, March 3, 2013

Guardian student bloggers

I was looking for articles on distance learning for a committee I'm chairing, when I stumbled across the Guardian's UK student blog.

Some of the posts are, of course, trivial, but others are interesting and give insight into the life of students at university in the UK.

It's particularly interesting to me because, although I'm British and completed high school and technical college in Britain, my university education is entirely American. This is partly because of the class system in the UK. I was born into a very solidly working class Sheffield family that had never sent yet one of its children to university until my sister and I broke the mold. When class is not just about income but also about culture and tribe, and class barriers are rigidly enforced (on both sides of the divide), this kind of thing can easily happen, and still does happen in Britain.

I still needed to delve into distance learning for my committee, so I read the comments on a student-written blog article about MOOCs.

One note I read mentioned a reason for British students to study American MOOCs:

"...American lecturers have no middle class agenda and talk to an audience they assume find it difficult so try to explain clearly whereas most Britsih lecturers try to make things more complicated than they are to keep out the rif raff."

So, in other words, this students believes that snotty middle-class professors ("lecturers" in British) at UK institutions don't like to come down to the level where their students are at.

There's a problem with this if the students aren't doing the work.  If you don't make an effort to keep up in one of my classes, you will be left behind, and although I'll try to help you catch up, I won't be happy about it.

But if the author is right (based on my own experiences I think he is, at least partly), then one consequence of the postwar nationalization of UK higher education, still in force, more or less, has been that professors believe, perhaps subconsciously, they can still get away with this kind of thing.

BTW, it's not too late to do the Unity College Distance Learning Survey.

Do it. Do it now.

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