Tag Archives: eLearning 2.0

Decoding Learning

“The Proof, Promise, and Potential of Digital Education” NESTA Report

Decoding Learning

This NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) report was highlighted on the BBC News website this morning with the text that caught my attention – “there is clear evidence that technology can boost learning”. Powerful words. What’s worse, however, is that it also confirms what we’ve all thought for a while now, that while “digital technology that has the power to transform education [it] often sits in boxes because teachers do not know how best to use it, a study claims.”

Excellent news, proof that we’re all talking sense then when we try and use current and emerging technology in a manner to improve what we do and how students can use it to their advantage? When talking about expensive technology, the report found that

“they say that too often they are used without a strong understanding of their power to transform education, and many schools still use technology to support 20th Century teaching methods and learning objectives.”

I wonder, has anyone actually explained to these Schools’ what they’re buying, or is just someone sat down with a catalogue and a budget and told they have to spend the budget, even if they don’t need or want it, or they don’t get anything next year, when they may need it? Do Schools get any training on the tech they buy other than “this is how you switch it on and connect to it the network”? Anything contextual or helpful is probably left to the School’s ICT Co-ordinator to figure out for him/herself.

“We have lots of examples of brilliant use of technology from all over the world and this report brings them all together.”

Excellent, I’ll be spending some time reading this then. Click the image above or use this link to download the full ‘Digital Learning’ report.

Reading: "eLearning 2.0"

Stephen Downes has written another excellent piece for the eLearn Magazine entitled “eLearning 2.0“.

“E-learning as we know it has been around for ten years or so. During that time, it has emerged from being a radical idea – the effectiveness of which was yet to be proven – to something that is widely regarded as mainstream. It’s the core to numerous business plans and a service offered by most colleges and universities. And now, e-learning is evolving with the World Wide Web as a whole and it’s changing to a degree significant enough to warrant a new name: E-learning 2.0.”

My first question is this; does it warrant the new nomenclature of eLearning 2.0? There are many who would argue that what we call Web 2.0 doesn’t warrant the name either; it is not a new version of anything rather the modification to how we use the web.

Reading further through Stephen’s article you do get a fuller understanding of the shift that has/is taking place between what we know as eLearning and what we are starting to think eLearning could/should be.

“Learning integrates into every aspect of our lives, from daily household chores to arts and culture. Learning and living, it could be said, will eventually merge. The challenge will not be in how to learn, but in how to use learning to create something more, to communicate.”

Anyway, please read, it is worth it.

eLearning, where do we go from here?

Using the tools of Web 2.0 (wiki, blog, podcast, etc) learners are starting at younger and younger ages. The technology is appearing at home when they are younger and so their expectations of when and where to use it are changing (“Generation Y”)

When they get to further and higher education they ‘expect’ that they will use a wiki, use a blog or be given a podcast (or be asked to produce their own). So we, the teachers and Learning Technologists, need to be able to offer this so we can match, and even exceed, their expectations.

Steve O’Hear noted that Web 2.0 is ” … not designed specifically for use in education” but went on to say that ”these tools are helping to make e-learning far more personal, social, and flexible.”

However, Steve has now coined a term I thought, or hoped, I wouldn’t hear: “eLearning 2.0“. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the phrase, but it is obviously based on the term Web 2.0 which itself is not really a real term (we have not had a major shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 as the name suggests).

“The traditional approach to e-learning”, he says, “has been to employ the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), software that is often cumbersome and expensive – and which tends to be structured around courses, timetables, and testing.” This is often based around the needs of the institution rather than the learner. The contrast between the VLE approach and the eLearning 2.0 approach is that the latter “combines the use of discrete but complementary tools and web services – such as blogs, wikis, and other social software – to support the creation of ad-hoc learning communities.”

Collaborative eLearning Systems

Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS)

The development of the new suite of eLearning tools is going on outside the ‘traditional’ places .. it’s happening in the (virtual) classrooms, born of the need of the learners, not the educators. The Internet is now about the two-way communication and collaboration, and the classroom has become the ideal, if not natural, location for this to happen. The ‘old school’ systems (VLE, LMS) don’t have the direction and ability to enable the learners to focus on the community aspects of learning. “They are expensive”, writes Steve O’Hear, “and are generally seen as clunky and difficult to use – not unlike traditional Content Management Systems in enterprises. They also have a lot of features that most teachers and students don’t want or need.”