Rhodes in July – a familiar hotel with stunning view of the Aegean. Will the conference papers be stunning too?

The first keynote from Professor Morten Paulsen, Norwegian School of Information Technology, was quiet and thoughtful. His theory of co-operative freedom and transparency in online education put forward, based on many years experience and innovation in his institution and elsewhere, proposes the need for a middle ground between individual learning and group learning.

He suggests that individual lone learning is the best way for some, and supports the notion of group learning but points out its issues – such as free-riding – with which we are all familiar. his middle way he calls co-operative learning using networks rather than groups, the key point being to enable shared learning but without the dependence on other group members.

He is a strong believer in freedom of space, time, scheduling etc – his students can begin studies at any day provided they complete within 18 months and nominate their own submission deadlines up front so they can be tracked and monitored. He also advocates for transparency – of coursework published to the web ( with some tutor editorial control), of sharing student profiles ( provided they agree) and of sharing work for peer review – making the case that this optimises learning (improved accuracy through checking, improved effort through the knowledge of multiple audiences, and improved collaborative learning through online discussion and input from previously unknown web experts).

Is there a case for attempting fully online courses at Brighton?

One thing we would definitely struggle with – their 1.7 day turnaround of summative feedback! How to moderate? how to ensure internal consistency over time when a marker marks assignments over a long period? A published response barometer for individual staff sounds scary.

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