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The Voice Magazine - Interview with Vive Kumar

Vive Kumar waxes lyrical on the differences between online and face-to-face learning, the value of analytics, and the importance of culture and spirituality in learning. Good, thought-provoking stuff. I too get a bit sentimental about some of the things about physical proximity that Vive misses in the online teaching environment, but I think there are lots of positive differences too, not least the control it offers, the student-centred shifts in power relationships it almost enforces, the rich variety of pace that it effortlessly supports, and the huge knowledge-forming benefits of reified dialogue. Also, overcoming the challenges and understanding the nature of those differences is one of the main things that keeps it interesting for me. It's different, but that's often a good thing.

I have greatly enjoyed this series of faculty interviews in AUSU's Voice Magazine (and been the subject of one of them, as have Terry Anderson and George Siemens). It's really helpful in starting to make those human connections that Vive talks about in this interview. I have also really enjoyed the student interviews with which they are interspersed, that help to provide a glimpse of the human beings that we normally only see in caricature through their learning interactions. A great series. The Voice magazine is a treasure that I only discovered as a result of being interviewed. For those that work at Athabasca U or that want to understand its culture and processes, it's a great read. It's a bit hard to navigate around it at times, but it's well worth the effort.


  • On-line interactions -- more cheating involved,  than face-2-face 

    that is why "online version"  has  higher risk assessment  than face-2-face

    - Anonymous

    Anonymous May 29, 2015 - 9:30pm

  • Thank you anonymous. Actually, thats false - we do need to bust that myth!

    See, for instance:


    There is plentiful other evidence to support this. Conversely, cheating in physical institutions is rife, particularly those that have not taken into account the fact that the Internet exists yet and continue to teach and test just as they always did, that make a huge issue out of the credentials they offer, and are surprised when students take shortcuts. Some reports reckon 70% or more cheat on exams, while figures are even higher for coursework, in physical institutions. In some countries the figures are higher still. This is an epidemic that, if it were a disease, would wipe out the human race.

    I suspect there are two main reasons that online cheating is no higher than face to face, despite some obvious temptations and apparent lack of oversight (another myth - we are awfully careful and have many tools at our disposal to detect and dissuade cheats). The first is that, on average, distance learning tends to attract motivated students that are really interested: it's still not an easy option, despite massive gains in recent years, so those that make it through tend to be very keen. The second is that, on average, those of us that teach online tend to think more carefully about the activities and assignments because we have to do so - there is no simple 'tell them in a lecture then test them' for us, so we have to build pedagogies that work and, on the whole, that discourage or disenable cheating. It's far from universally true - there's good and bad both online and off, and there are some awful for-profit accreditation-mills out there that let the side down royally - but on average these factors are quite significant.

    Jon Dron May 29, 2015 - 9:53pm

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