By Jim Shimabukuro
The Manifesto for Teaching Online (2.24.12), written by teachers and researchers in the MSc in E-learning program at the University of Edinburgh from June 2010 to May 2011, is arguably the most exciting document for discussion to emerge thus far in 2012. It was distributed in the following format, but other formats are also available.
The manifesto is described as “a series of brief statements that attempt to capture what is generative and productive about online teaching, course design, writing, assessment and community. It is, and may remain, a living document that is reviewed and reworked periodically with colleagues, students and amongst the programme team …. Its primary purpose is to spark discussion, and to articulate a position about e-learning that informs the work of the project team, and the MSc in E-learning programme more broadly.”
The creators, however, are opening the discussion to a wider audience: “Our intention is that over the next few months the manifesto will stimulate discussion on a wider stage, fuel further research, and draw attention to the work being done here at Edinburgh in developing new perspectives on e-learning.”
Below, I’ve reproduced the entirety for easier viewing. I kept the apparent color coding in the asterisks as close to the original as possible.
Manifesto for Teaching Online
* Distance is a positive principle, not a deficit. Online can be the privileged mode.
* The possibility of the ‘online version’ is overstated. The best online courses are born digital.
* By redefining connection we find we can make eye contact online.
* ‘Best practice’ is a totalising term blind to context – there are many ways to get it right.
* Every course design is philosophy and belief in action.
* The aesthetics of online course design are too readily neglected: courses that are fair of (inter)face are better places to teach and learn in.
* Online courses are prone to cultures of surveillance: our visibility to each other is a pedagogical and ethical issue.
* Text is being toppled as the only mode that matters in academic writing.
* Visual and hypertextual representations allow arguments to emerge, rather than be stated.
* New forms of writing make assessors work harder: they remind us that assessment is an act of interpretation.
* Feedback can be digested, worked with, created from. In the absence of this, it is just ‘response’.
* Assessment strategies can be designed to allow for the possibility of resistance.
* A routine of plagiarism detection structures-in a relation of distrust.
* Assessment is a creative crisis as much as it is a statement of knowledge.
* Place is differently, not less, important online.
* Closed online spaces limit the educational power of the network.
* Online spaces can be permeable and flexible, letting networks and flows replace boundaries.
* Course processes are held in a tension between randomness and intentionality.
* Online teaching should not be downgraded into ‘facilitation’.
* Community and contact drive good online learning.
* Written by teachers and researchers in online education. University of Edinburgh MSc in E-learning 2011
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