Tuesday, November 01, 2011

If you deliver a course, you don't own it. "Deliver" is the opposite of "engage." A course is not a book or pizza.

If we "deliver" education we deny responsibility for students' learning. We ignore most learners' needs for guidance, encouragement, structure, feedback and re-direction - for engagement. Engagement with teachers, peers, and ideas.

My skeptic's hackles rise whenever I hear someone talk about "delivering a course" or "delivering a lecture" or "delivering content" ... It's not a quibble.
If we talk about education in terms of "delivery" we have begun to deny responsibility for what happens AFTER the "material" is delivered. Yes, I know that many people can learn much that is worth learning on their own - if they have access to good information resources (including libraries, books, online, ...). But I believe that the historical evidence is overwhelming in the other direction. Most people need something more like engagement with others to learn much that is important - especially things that are important and not immediately applicable.

And, finally, if you develop or teach a course that you can truly "deliver," then someone else can deliver it instead of you. If your course is "deliverable" or worse yet "a deliverable", then you are unnecessary. Watch out!

See also postings from TLT-SWG:

Photo of many empty pizza delivery cartons. "There weren't many leftovers," Nic McPhee, Flickr, http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3066/2954167050_79b2d3b6e0.jpg,
Some rights reserved by Unhindered by Talent'
Pizza Carton Legumes' Wall Decal - 33"W x 36"H Removable Graphic

Photo of "Two porcupines" [cropped] 28 September 2007, 10:03 Cindy from Wisconsin, USA
By Cindy from Wisconsin, USA (Porcupines) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


  1. Sorry, Steve, but I couldn't disagree more with your views on "delivering" a course. Like it or not, we live in digital times which have affected the way everything we do today is "delivered." But, even before the digital evolution, things were "delivered" that also required additional skills and abilities. Let's begin at the most basic "deliverable" in society--a newborn baby. Try telling most mothers (especially those who work outside of the home) that their work was done after they "delivered" a baby! Then ask the person who "delivered" your water heater, window blinds, attic insulation, or dishwasher. The list goes on. All of these items required the work of a specialist to install and test before you could use it.

    The same holds true for teaching a course. Our students are not experts--they learn their expertise from us assuming, of course, that we are designing our courses the way we should, whether we teach face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online, Perhaps most importantly is the reality that our students for the most part have lived in a digital world all of their lives and have few qualms about how a course is "delivered." And it's supposed to be all about the student, right?

    Regarding your concern that someone else might "deliver" our course for us, how is this different from what other professions are having to deal with as technology performs the tasks these people used to perform? What is important is ensuring our students are learning what they need to learn to be able to understand and meet the demands of a crisis-filled,global economy. Will "delivered" courses mean job losses? No doubt they will (and when you think that some states have, or are considering, phasing out remedial math and English courses, a "delivered" course might be better than on course at all)

    I guess I said all of this to day that, just as with all other services, how education is "delivered" will come down to what students and the economy deems best. And this is no different from any other industry, not just in America but around the world.

    Deborah Dessaso

  2. I once signed up for an online course at my own college, where there was NO DiSCUSSION FORUM. There was no interaction. Yes, the prof corrected your assignment and gave you a grade, but little feedback.

    I would call this a "delivered" course. I dropped the course.

  3. Sorry, but I do think it a quibble. Those who would narrowly define "delivery" as only the expository or didactic presentation, could not deliver a problem-based, issue-based, or project-based course...yet these are delivered. Delivery assessment is a critical metric that goes beyond presentation. Should we use terms like facilitate, guide, mentor, support, engage more often - absolutely. As for ownership, there are a lot of views out there about Intellectual Property. In our College, the Schools own and approve ALL curriculum and the development of curriculum is part of the faculty duty under the CBA. Faculty take "ownership" by virtue of their engagement and their passion for the learners and the learning.


What do you think?