It is fitting recognition for our group which has built up a successful portfolio of fully online distance learning courses, in parallel with running innovative and influential R&D projects and providing consultancy services. Over the years the Association for Learning Technology annual conference has been an excellent opportunity for us to keep up to date and to share the many aspects of TALL’s work. This has ranged from running ALT workshops on our course production process through to giving presentations on World of Warcraft and Second Life. It was a real honour to receive the award at the conference gala dinner last night.
The ALT panel of judges had the following to say about us:
“The TALL team has succeeded in developing a flexible model for production of material which is efficient and effective in the Oxford environment. It now delivers in a way that reflects the Oxford tutorial model with emphasis on frequent interaction between learner and academic and on regular updating.”
It is gratifying to see the aims we set out with around five years ago so neatly reflected in the judges’ comments. TALL has been at the forefront of elearning design production and delivery since it’s formation in 1996. Another way of looking at this is that we made most of our mistakes early, learnt from them and moved on.
“The judges were impressed with the speed at which learner numbers had built up along with the range of courses and projects being delivered in a difficult market.”
The unerring support of our Department has helped TALL to create and deliver online courses in highly technical subjects such as Nanotechnology together with a suit of short courses in humanities subjects, the latter being a much neglected area in online education.
The real strength of the unit however is in its breadth of activity. Research informs production and vice-versa.
“The judges were impressed with the balance in the team between production and delivery of online material and an active and strong research and development programme.”
This is very important to me as I feel that it’ s crucial for any unit, no matter how ‘technical’ it may appear to the wider institution, to maintain the university tradition of questioning the status quo and pushing the boundaries of disciplines. The heritage of units such as TALL puts them in a challenging position which should neither be wholly technology focused nor a purely academic. I find it very rewarding bridging these cultures, ensuring that thousands of students each year from all around the globe have an opportunity to engage with Oxford courses, while pushing our thinking and practice forward.
I’m frequently impressed by our team who have worked really hard to ensure that TALL has become an important part of our Department’s activities and has put online distance learning from Oxford University on the map.