Hi Wayne, agree with Maria on the need for outreach to students as early as possible. For me, school was a lost cause by the time I was 14. There being no means for me to contact people who cared, left me in a pointless spin until I could escape.
If you are suggesting that Academic Volunteers might help I think the first step is to decide what categories those volunteers will come from. If all are from an academic background then OERu will simply repeat what we already have.
Thanks for sharing.
During a previous SCoPE seminar, we started brainstorming "user stories" for different categories of volunteers. This still needs a lot of work, but your point is well made that simply replicating what we already have will not necessarily get us to where we want to be.
The fundamental challenge we are trying to address is to widen access to free learning opportunities, especially for the millions of learners who are excluded from the tertiary sector, with pathways to acheive credible degrees.
As a small charitible colloboration - we simply do not have the resources for sophisticated outreach to students. Our model is designed around smart integration of peer-learning support. On the technology side, we use a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) approach with careful integration of peer learning activities.
Terry Anderson's work on the interaction equivalency theorem provides some research evidence that if we can effectively ramp up student-student support, we can get away with not having high levels of lecturer-student interactions.
To be candid - in a large online class, there is a strong likelihood that a number of learners will "know the answer" (or at least know how to find it).