Landing : Athabascau University

UOC (Open University of Calalonia) Part 2

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By Terry Anderson November 14, 2011 - 10:15am Comments (4)

I am on the last day of my week at OUC. Today I met with four PhD researchers -each with very interesting projects. One in particular was personally interesting as it is the first to provide empirical evidence supporting the 2nd thesis of my Interaction Equivalency Theory (see a site on these ideas at The second was looking at the impact of the type of feedback given to online students by their tutors. The third studying the impact of student (peer) annotation of problem solving videos that are used in Math education.  Finally the last candidate was looking at the age old question of drop out and its economic impact on the University. Interesting was that all four were either permanent University employees, or on support from the University to support their full time study. Showing that money in, gives very serious results out, as opposed to our doctoral money where students pay us and mostly research specific topics outside of the domain of our university. Each of these studies represented years of work and very serious scholarship.

Research at UOC (and in many parts of Europe) is organized into research groups, some of which are multi-disciplinary. The University provides small amounts of seed funding and annual support for conferences/guests for these groups and then they are expected to apply for EU and other state funding for projects.  It seems like a very good way to encourage research in general and allows researchers (faculty and PhD students) to have a feedback and support community to both focus and support their research.

UOC has a common (but broad) 'educational model' that underpins the pedagogical approach in all of their courses and programs. The model was originally student centered: as below and described in a 2002 IRRODL article. Although the model is full featured and niotes all the components of UOC delivery, it fails to acknowledge the role of the teachers, institution, discipline and other factors impinging on the educational experience



The current model (below) acknowledges this and is much simpler and places learning activities at the centre. These activities are supported by 'accompaniment' provided by human and institutional resources (teachers, tutors & counsellors); by learning resources (content in multiple formats, from multiple sources); and by collaboration (other students and external collaborators). See the model further described here.


I have not seen such a pedagogical model for Athabasca and think we would be well served to articulate our vision for quality learning. I think the three components above could be applied to most learning - without mandating particular ideologies or pedagogy, learning design, disciplinary perspective or learning activity. The value of the model is giving us a vision of the types of components and emphasis that defines our vision of quality education.  Notably, though our current stress on 'independent learning' -(at least without collaboration/cooperation tools like the Landing), precludes much or all collaboration.

What does the implict (if not articulated) model of learning at Athabasca look like??

Your comments most appreciated.



  • I would be interested inseeing any differences between what our tutors do in giving their feedback and what types of feedback tutors elsewhare give.  To some extent, AU is "teaching proof"--i.e. reliant on the course materials , which histroically frozen in time for three years, while tutors graded assignments.    I also think that AU might be said to have two models--one for progam (esp. paced and graduate ) students, the other for visiting undergraduates, who typically get rather less interactivity and face-to face meeting

    Mark Crawford November 14, 2011 - 10:58am

  • Is it possible for the Universitat de Catalunya to share any of their courses with us? For those of us who read Spanish, that might be helpful in gauging how their courses differ from ours. Mind you, I'm assuming the courses are in castellano rather than catalunyo, though I think that one can go from standard Spanish to Catalan without great difficulty.


    Alvin Finkel November 14, 2011 - 6:52pm

  • Likely they would be interested in allowing someone to view their courses. They teach in Spansih, Catalonya and some Grad courses in English - but do remebr that all of their courses are paced and they usually have 40-60 students in a class - which is high by online cohort courses.

    Let me know if you want me to forward your name to my contacts adn the subject/level you are inetrested in viewing.  We do have a formal 'letter of agreement between AU and UOC" but nothing really has come of it.


    Terry Anderson November 14, 2011 - 10:39pm

  • Hi Terry,

    Am looking forward to seeing the completion of the Thesis 2 research - sure talented as arriving at the pathless topic.


    Terumi MiyaZoé November 16, 2011 - 4:33pm

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