Interesting question and one that really raises two issues: firstly whether students will still come to class when they can get the information from the web anyway and secondly, how teachers feel about putting their material out there for anyone to access. If I address the second issue first, sharing content in such an open manner seems to be a particularly prickly point with many teachers and probably worries them more than it should. I think that teachers who are very protective of their resource material fall into 2 categories: 1) those that think their material is superior and don’t want anyone to use it and take the credit when they have put a lot of work into developing it and 2) those that think that maybe their material is not really good enough and are perhaps afraid of criticism. Are there other reasons for wanting to limit sharing of resources?
Of course we are currently under the threat of complete contestability for funding (see Patty 2011) and the question of private RTO’s gaining access to quality TAFE resources to save money usually spent on developing resources is a real issue. Often the cut rate private RTO’s are seen as demonstrating “best practice” by governments that want to opt for the cheap option. How do we maintain TAFE’s position in the education sector when there is not a level playing field?
The answer to that question also answers the first issue….will students still come? They come because they want to get a quality product and employers choose our graduates because they know they are getting well-trained workers. For the first time this year my students are able to do one of the theory subjects I teach completely online if they wish. They can access all the notes, links, figures, powerpoints and podcasts of the lectures online through moodle. So far only about 8 out of 90 or so students have taken up the online option and my classes are still bulging with students who want face-to-face interaction. It will be interesting to see the outcome at the end of the semester.
Watching David Wiley speak about our responsibility as educators to share content also made me question my current practice of putting enrolment keys on my moodles. I began to ask myself what would happen if I removed the enrolment key – just who am I trying to keep out? I often think I would like to see how other teachers run their moodles (maybe I might get some ideas on how to improve my own) but in almost all instances I am locked out of their moodles by the enrolment keys. Considering the only people who can access moodle are currently enrolled students and staff really brings into question the purpose of the enrolment key in what is essentially a closed community. Where do you stand? Do you think it is important to keep some individuals from having easy access?