Week12: A4: Reading Richardson (2009)

Reading: Richardson (2009), ‘Face-to-face (F2F) versus online tutoring support in humanities courses in distance education’

Points from paper

Alexander (2001) identified 3 factors determining the quality of the student’s experience:

  1. Communication & support
  2. Time
  3. ICT literacy

pg 70 – the importance of appropriate learning design rather then the use of ICT.

pg 74 – Student approaches in higher education are categorised as being deep, strategic or surface approaches.

Students’ perception of the course’s quality may be a factor which influences the learning experience.

My notes

Comparing briefly the two papers written by Richardson that we have read this week, I have perceived that this study is broader and adds the material ‘quality’ factor. Thus focus is not solely on good ‘tutoring’ as online tutoring support can have a wider spectrum (if compared to F2F).

Isn’t there a problem when comparing F2F directly with online learning? These are different modes of learning as there is a different mode of communication.  How can we think that one is ‘better’ then the other? Online learning as pointed out lacks paralinguistic cues but on the other hand it provides benefits of asynchronous tools like forums or blogs. One needs to be aware of the specs of the mode of learning being used so as to get the best possible experience.

> Bearing in mind what I said earlier about the role of rhetoric in reports of educational research, do you find my conclusion – that institutions can feel confident about exploring the use of online forms of tutorial support – a convincing one?

Institutions may feel confident ONLY if appropriate online learning design is in place. Still this study shows that there are a reasonable percentage of students who prefer F2F tutoring for a variety of reasons (see pg 76). Thus should institutions use solely online tutoring at the expense of students who have problems, example in connecting to the Internet?

Results in this study show that with appropriate support, time allocation and awareness of student literacy this is true. It is important that students are given appropriate support and cues of how to use effectively the course’s tools mainly access to the tutor and material provided. This is highlighted by Price (2007) when stressing the need for teacher and student training.

A problem not tackled directly by Richardson (2009) in his work is the learning shift (away from a teacher-centred approach) that some students need to make in order to use effectively online support.

The history of the OU shows that a shift in the type of media being used is inevitable. The shift to the popular media, might be happening so as to keep at pace with society. At the same time, the effectiveness of different media (radio, TV, CD-ROMs etc) cannot be measured by the same yard stick as although there is always the same aim of learning, the roads being used to reach this aim are not the same.

From experience I believe that students need to have some time in order to adapt to major changes when shifting between for example primary and secondary. Even when moving online, students will be facing a new environment which needs proper scouting. In fact when applying for H800, which happens to be my first course with OU, colleagues already studying with OU, told me that all required material would be posted to home. On the other hand different from other courses, a different type of approach needs to be used on this course. In fact I am adapting to this new way of studying online where books are replaced with e-books and the notebook is replaced by a blog. But have all students starting this course been able to adapt?


3 thoughts on “Week12: A4: Reading Richardson (2009)

  1. Hi Keith

    You ask ‘But have all students starting this course been able to adapt?’

    Interesting question! I am a keen technology-user, I touch-type and am therefore probably faster on a keyboard than with pen and paper, I value the flexibility having access to the internet gives me BUT I find that I need to be able to move away from the computer on a regular basis, my eyes can’t take too much screen work and I cannot cope with long articles online. Add to that the fact that there have been problems with accessing the course website and I feel that it isn’t so much about not being able to adapt to a course that tries to do everything ‘paperless’ but welcoming the opportunity to have a choice of media. And it still gives me a buzz to receive and open parcels – that is one pleasure denied with this course ….


  2. thanks for your reply Frauke. But do you think that if you had a choice of media you would revert totally to the ‘traditional’ method ? By jotting my notes in a blog, I miss the opportunity of scribbling and drawing diagrams as part of my thinking. On the other hand this mode of learning has proved to have its advantages. what do you think ?

  3. No, I don’t think I would revert totally – I do value the different opportunities the new technologies offer. Especially at the moment – when I started this course, I set up a study space for myself with all relevant stuff around me (very OU) only to have my husband go on sick leave for several weeks soon after which meant that he wanted to use ‘my’ space (as it did have his computer on the same desk; I’m using my laptop). Although he went back to work, he’s now also doing an OU course and wants to use the same space for his study in the evening so my stuff got shunted here, there and everywhere. Since then, I’ve actually done a lot more electronically as I carry the laptop from pillar to post to find a quiet space. Grrrrrrrr!


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