Thursday, October 23, 2014


Do you know that feeling when an article or book seemingly falls into your hands at just the right moment in time? I expect it can be explained by science, but seen subjectively it's an amazing sensation.

In the’s early days, a group of us were sitting around debating our scaling philosophies. The conversation heated up after Michael Dearing, a faculty mem­ber and venture capitalist, asked a brilliant question. It went some­thing like: “What is our goal? Is it more like Catholicism, where the aim is to replicate preordained design beliefs and practices? Or is it more like Buddhism, where an underlying mindset guides why people do certain things—but the specifics of what they do can vary wildly from person to person and place to place?” [source: Huggy Rao, Michael Dearing]

Working on the design and development of a programme of (tertiary) study — my colleague and myself are working on three concurrently — always invokes the templates vs freedom-of-expression debate. I am clear in my own mind that one size does not fit all, and that there is no one right way to teach or learn online. However, I do concede that some consistency of approach helps the student get oriented.

I have a preference. I know what I would do if it was me. But it's not me. A whole programme of study is made up from a catalogue of courses, each with their own subject matter experts, each of whom have their own ideas of how their subject should be taught. It isn't really for me to tell them they are wrong. That would be like being down the C end. So I think I place myself more towards B, loose but guided by an underlying mindset.  

That's the balance I'm trying to find. And the article by Huggy Rao and Michael Dearing hasn't really given me any answers, it's just brought the question to the fore. Perhaps I should read their book.

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