TikTok pedagogy of online education takes students to a happy dance
We tell our students that good attention to detail and evidence is the hallmark of good academics and employees. Qualities should also be the hallmark of policymaking in universities, everywhere.
Within such a structure, staff should also be called upon to offer their experience and expertise in a process of genuine consultation, as opposed to long predetermined stamped executive decisions. This should be especially true when it comes to teaching and curriculum, areas in which university directors rarely have real expertise, whether theoretical or practical.
Yet such consultation is clearly lacking in the meteoric drive by some Australian universities to end face-to-face teaching in the wake of the pandemic. Driven by learning and teaching groups with inordinate power and influence over programming, the shift to a TikTok pedagogical-driven style of delivery is likely to become the norm.
Colleges and universities feel both tempted and threatened by the presence of online education systems. Written in 2018, Subhash Kak already noted that online learning “would put up to half of the colleges and universities in the United States in danger of closing over the next two decades, because distant students would get comparable training on the Internet.” But, also, online delivery has been a supreme opportunity for budget keepers.
Last year, for example, Curtin University entertained a proposal abolish exams and physical classes. The institution’s suggestion was to replace each lecture with three 15-minute videos. While there is something to be said about separating lessons and using certain video-based topics, reducing theoretical and substantive topics to such a shortened format is counterproductive. Such submission to short attention spans is bound to result in a cheaper product in every sense of the word. A Curtin humanities scholar, anonymous for fear of losing his job, the summary well enough in a newspaper article: âThe subjects we teach cannot be reduced to three points. “
Similar steps were also taken at another institution in Western Australia, Murdoch University, which promised that all of its 2021 lectures would be delivered online – although âmostâ of the tutorials were designed to be face-to-face.
“Even without the impact of Covid-19, this is a contemporary and pedagogically sound approach that increases students’ flexible access to learning and is aligned with our technology-enhanced learning strategy,” said Kylie Readman, assistant vice chancellor for education and equity.
Although Tasmania is relatively untouched by the pandemic, the University of Tasmania announced in November that it would also drop in-person lectures since – according to its academic executive director, Mitch Parsell – students have was clear that “small-group campus activities such as workshops, tutorials, labs and seminars” are what they “enjoy the most.”
The University of the Sunshine Coast has Also âTook into account student feedback and will offer more contemporary and flexible learning approaches. In other words, all lectures will be phased out, in person or online, in favor of tutorials, podcasts and quizzes.
But what about evidence to the contrary? Student reaction to online learning has been mixed, to say the least. After collecting surveys from 118 higher education institutions during the first semester of 2020, the Higher Education Quality and Standards Agency Noted that between 33 and 50 percent of those surveyed “said they didn’t like the online learning experience and never wanted to relive it again”, a lack of academic interaction (34 percent) and a lack of commitment (29 percent).
Concerns were also expressed by the president-elect of the University of Tasmanian Students’ Association, Sophie Crothers. Describing his experiences during his fourth year of college, Crothers Noted the unsettling nature of suddenly ‘seeing no one’ with new students unable to make new friends and not knowing who they were studying with. She also noted that students can take significantly longer to complete online courses because academics “don’t have to worry as much about how they deliver content.”
Critics who claim that attending in-person lectures is not the end of the college experience are, on some level, correct. There’s a lot not to recommend stumbling into an 8am lecture given by a decrepit, barely audible stereotypical professor slumped over a book by its author, unable to realize beyond the lectern.
But much of the intellectual watering takes place outside the confines of the amphitheater where the intellectual seeds are first sown. The online experience is a pipeline pedagogy of a different kind and overall more impoverished. It blocks the interpersonal conduits between students that make the flow of ideas possible. And it won’t be long before the cracks become impossible to ignore, even for college principals.
Binoy campmark is senior Lecturer at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University Melbourne.