Monday, October 15, 2007

The future of elearning requires change in Tools, Processes AND Teachers

Funny how my thinking never seems to stray very far...and these are just out-loud thoughts right now.

I've been developing an online "course/workshop" with the goal of helping faculty who are new to online teaching and learning, navigate the waters of building their online courses. Quite honestly, I've been stumbling over myself on this project, and think it has something to do with what I see as inconsistencies in what I'm used to doing, and what I've come to value in recent months with regard to what online teaching/learning should be. I stumble in reconciling what "stuff" should be taught vs. what can be effectively learned without being experienced. In retrospect this is not completely new to me since I prefer learning through doing--both in my own teaching and in my own life.

Cole Camplese posted recently about what future elearning tools might (need to) look like. Cole says:

What I struggle with is the idea of what is a really good eLearning environment these days? In my mind, a handful of pages of content that link and embed objects that drive student and faculty to engage in conversations (on or off line) seems to be the goal. With that said, why not design those content pages in a blog so students and faculty (and maybe people from the outside) can have conversations in context? Why are we still struggling with what the right eLearning tool set looks like when we are sitting in a world with dozens of content creation tools? The model we are trying to avoid consists of tons of static text pages that prompt students to leave the content and jump into a discussion forum to interact — I’ve never liked that, but now the technology supports what I am after … the opportunity for conversation at every level of a course experience.
This is no trivial puzzle that has also occupied my thinking of late…I feel like the Grinch (who stole Christmas) in that he puzzled for hours "till his puzzler was sore"--how I feel on this particular issue.

The current model--or the way I've been trained to design instruction was largely content based, peppered with some online activities where possible. A lot of lip service is paid to active engagement and learning activities. Like Cole says, a host of disparate new tools exist out there that have a great deal of potential, but how to aggregate them, and how do you help teachers think differently about online teaching.

I and many others advocate some form of a 3-pronged attack--one that looks at:
  1. the enviroment (tools)
  2. the processes (learning activities)
  3. the people (both teachers AND students).
The environment/tools, processes and even students are coming along, but they are only 2/3 of the equation. The teachers and online teaching practice generally seems to lag a smidgen. These 3 areas have to move forward together to affect change, but too often the responsibilities for these 3 areas lie in different organizations and (try to) go forward uncoordinated.

-Joel G.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.