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Mode-Neutral and the Need to Transform Teaching

PAQ, Vol. 35 No. 4, (2011)

Even as public administration programs are beginning to come to grips with online education and the “death of distance” (Cairncross, 2001), there comes another shift in how we think about teaching and learning. We have somewhat reluctantly moved from a not too distant past where we were all “on ground,” towards a present of increasing online course delivery. Now we have witnessed a move to blended teaching, where classes are a mix of online and on ground modalities. The next stage may be an even bigger conceptual shift to “mode neutral.” Mode neutral is available both on ground and on line and yet is not really “blended.” Instead, mode neutral moves towards an online/on ground content delivery that allows students not only to choose which mode they will use for a class, but to opt in and out of either at will within a class. The geographical location of the student begins to have less and less relevance.
Further, and even more importantly for public service education, the mode neutral approach may help us teach and learn in a way that increases our students’ ability to provide transformative leadership. It can be argued that the movement from passive learner to active shaper of their educational experience, and the constructivist approach integral to mode neutral education, may be an important tool in helping our students to become transformative leaders.

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