Hi Diana and Hilda,
Thank you for taking the time to do this! I really look forward to learning from your experiences and from those of other participants. I'm involved with developing online courses at TRU, Open Learning and am eager to gain any wisdom and insights from students who live in the online learning world. On a side note, I was an undergrad at SFU more years ago than I care to tell, and I think I can safely say things may have changed a little!
Welcome to Demistifying the Student Perspective, we're terrific to have you with us! Would you like to share a bit of your own experience as an undergrad student and how teaching and learning has evolved up to now?
Well… I haven’t recently noticed revolutionary posters in the Main Concourse or heard of sit-ins in the President’s office at SFU lately. Seriously, though, there are so many changes that I hardly know where to start. I could fill a book with responses, which is something I am sure you don't want or need. However, the one biggest thing, when I force myself to narrow it down, is that academic knowledge and activity are no longer so much the exclusive property of, or confined to, the halls and classrooms of the university, approved textbooks and library stacks. In fact, I would go further and say that things have turned inside out: The world is the university and we just have to figure out how to harness this new concept and how we as universities can redefine our role in this reality. To me the jury is still out on how this will happen, although there are some interesting hints of things to come. For instance, high quality open courses and other learning resources are now available with the tap of a finger on a touchscreen or mouse from MIT or Stanford University; countless high quality video resources such as lectures by eminent professors and thought leaders are available from the Khan Academy, TED or YouTube; and tools for debate, research, collaboration and mass communication are available for anyone with Internet access to use. Many creative faculty are inspired to reach out and bring the world of resources and tools for collaboration into their courses, testing new and interesting forms of teaching and learning. Some of these initiatives seem to be working well and some of them are more hype than substance. But these are still early days and we have a lot to learn – and I don’t think that will ever stop. At least I hope it doesn’t!
I agree with your point that now academic activity are not exclusive to what we do inside the university. For me as an interactive art student, a lot of the skill that I have learnt are not coming directly from the lab session or lecture anymore. Most of the time student has to learn on our own to complete the project given out in the course. In most of the cases, I feel that the courses I took is designed for student as a guidelines and information resources and it really is up to the student to take the project for their own exploration. This has worked out pretty well in my school experience but i think sometimes it relied on too much on student's motivation. This is my own perspective from the program I am currently in, will be interesting to know other people's experiences around this topic!
SFU has definitely changed in the last few years to try to foster student engagement on campus. http://www.sfu.ca/engage.html
Also a few courses in the SFU Surrey Campus are very interactive and more project-based compared to the standard lecture styles. Things are surely changing!