Monday, November 10, 2014

E-Learners of the Future: Tip #5 - Learning On the Edge--Part I

Educators who work in e-learning with students recognize very quickly that they are conducting a civilized operation in an uncivilized frontier. Students have some degree of understanding of this because when they enter e-learning they bring with them certain understandings of the online world which they have gleaned from their forays into this frontier via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and of course the online gaming world. The question we need to ask is:

 "Are these understandings accurate and can we expect reasonable transfer to the online learning enterprise?"

On the others side of the coin, we have the situation of educators who have been schooled and trained according to a model of education that no longer fits in the 21st century. The question we posed concerning students might equally apply to educators. Do their understandings of the online world ring true and can we expect reasonable transfer to the online learning enterprise?

Keep in mind the deep irony that for educators who have been educating students to accept change in their lives that they themselves are highly resistant to venturing outside their comfort zone in real and tangible ways. Educators do not want to venture into this uncivilized frontier without bringing baggage with them that is familiar to them which partially explains why teachers who delve into the online education world try to transfer their courses en masse. For them, this is a sanctuary in the uncivilized frontier.

In order to be truly effective in this uncivilized world of online education, both educators and students need to learn what it means to "learn on the edge". This means that both parties need to be willing to develop new skill sets that will not just enable them to survive the experience but also make a real difference in their goal to acquire deeper sustained learning which will lead them to be creators of new knowledge and skill sets in a developing culture of innovation.

A question that you might be thinking is why would I call the online education world " an uncivilized frontier"?

To answer that think about what you are hearing and reading concerning developments in the online education world. You have major universities jumping into the MOOC arena because they feel that their registrations are dropping and they need to stem the financial bleeding. Not much thought is given to how effective such constructs are only that they involve the latest technology and their competition have already broken ground in this area. You have a variety of big business interests jumping into the arena as well as niche businesses. The question that needs to be asked is how do you tell the "snake oil" salesmen from the bona fide offerings? I was part of a round table discussion this past week that was hosted by government ministry of education officials who were lamenting on how private online schools were robbing the brick and mortar school systems of valued clients. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I worked for a private online school.

This is the type of uncivilized frontier that both educators and students enter when they take the path of online education.

What I am going to suggest to you is that there are understandings and skill sets that will bring order to this frontier for both students and educators. It will require sacrificing tenets that in the past we have held as true. It will require taking on the mindset of both an explorer and perhaps that of a digital Wyatt Earp from United States history fame.

Revealing the ideas in the next posting....

1 comment:

"2" said...

The learning environment you describe does not appear, to me, any different from any other learning environment. In other words, every learning environment requires new skill sets. Technology advances in every age and environment, thus, we, the teachers and learners, must develop ourselves to fit the times and technologies as they progress.