Recent Presentation – The Pros and Cons of Loosely Coupled Teaching

The other presentation I did at WCET this year was a lot more fun. Asked to do a 15 minute spiel on a panel entitled “The Once and Future LMS” I promptly ignored the title of the session (as is my wont) and came up with my own, The Pros and Cons of Loosely Coupled Teaching.

The M.O. here was an interactive session to examine three different examples (in part culled from suggestions offered in the comments of a post from a few weeks back) of online classes taught using ‘loosely coupled tools.’ I asked the audience for their ‘Pros and Cons’ of these approaches (which Chris Lott graciously captured in the background) which I then contrasted with my own list of Pros and Cons that I had built ahead of time.

The goal here wasn’t just boosterism, but instead to be honest about the current set of tradeoffs involved with choosing these approaches, in hopes of re-focusing effort, attention and dollars towards filling these gaps rather than continued spending on walled gardens and monoliths that ultimately serve the wrong masters.

Even more importantly, my goal was to illustrate this conclusion, that the interest in these approaches and tools isn’t about strong willed kooks not wanting to conform (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but instead an issue of freedom that is not just relevant but ultimately fundamental to how we teach and learn online. The choice of tools and environments, and the *choosing* of them, is not incidental, nor is one’s attitude towards openness or authentic engagement. But we do need to move forward with stating the basic institutional requirements that need to be met and putting in place lightweight, loosely coupled mechanisms for meeting these, otherwise 5 years from now we will still be railing against the monoliths, and still forcing students and instructors who want to authentically engage with these tools and methods to act like renegades. – SWL