Aaron & Babel
Such an approach has become more needed than ever because rapidly increasing student numbers at Morocco’s universities are running up against capacity constraints: there is simply not enough room for all students, while those who do manage to be physically present find it difficult to concentrate and learn in overcrowded lecture theatres. The same situation, I guess, prevails, in varying degrees, all over the countries of our continent, Africa.
The book provides links to online content similar – and complementary – to the teachers’ class work. As a result, students who can attend classes in person are able to consolidate what they have learned in class, while those who cannot be present can still have their vital chance to learn – and save themselves the time, effort and expense of shuttling back and forth between home and campus.
A second book, LEAP Grammar (LEAP: Learning, Error Analysis, and Practice), has just come out and will be presented at the Casablanca Book Fair on 17th February, two more are planned; and hopefully, more will follow. The point, though, is not to vaingloriously fill a library shelf, but to see how the model performs across a variety of subjects and a range of disciplines.
In June 2017, I ran a workshop for my colleagues from the various schools and faculties at Hassan II University Casablanca. At the workshop, each colleague tried out and played around with the idea, and produced at least a chapter of their course work using the formula. The idea everyone seemed to like and agree with was “if our students can’t come to us, we’ll go to them”.
The relative novelty of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD ) method will undoubtedly be a significant motivating factor for today’s device-addicted students, as they will, for a change, be actively encouraged to use their smartphones, tablets and phablets. First, they will read the short version of the specific learning target in the book and then, using a suitable QR-code scanner app which can be downloaded for free, they will access the associated online video content which explains and illustrates it in detail.
In this initial stage of the project, the teaching staff will undertake the relatively simple task of finding suitable uncopyrighted online material for their classes. Eventually, such material will be replaced by content designed and produced by the staff members themselves. The format of the course books will remain the same though the content may evolve, slowly; the online content, however, can and should be renewed and updated on a regular and more frequent basis.
In the absence of more teaching staff and more new-build physical plant on campus, the method I have developed will relieve the pressure significantly. Universities may choose to invest instead in well-equipped video studios – with a view, in the medium and longer term, to producing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well. Properly structured MOOCs, it should be said, can offer very significant rates of financial return.