Wednesday, February 25, 2015

E-Learning: A Blueprint to the Future-- Evolving Characteristics of E-Learning and Vibrant Pedagogies

In a early post (April 2014) I suggested to you that before we can talk about E-Learning characteristics, we need to make sure that we are all on the same page of understanding as to what pedagogy is. Pedagogy is not just the same pedagogy it always was when we are talking about the online environment versus the brick and mortar traditional school setting.


 Phylise H. Banner in her blog post entitled: "The Pedagogy of Learning Design: A Translation of Pedagogies" defines what we are talking about and list some essential elements. In the realm of education, the word pedagogy is used when talking about this designed approach to instruction and the alignment of learning elements such as objectives, content, activities, and assessments. She suggested that we need to focus on three key elements in effective e-learning: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence.

Social presence focuses on creating a welcoming setting that is open and inviting so that our learners will want to engage with each other, the facilitator, and the learning content. Social presence is fostered by activities, methods, or approaches put in place to break the ice, build trust, and facilitate interaction with those around you.

  Teaching presence focuses on three major functions that we take on as training and learning professionals: design, facilitation, and direction of the learning experience. We build teaching presence by designing learning events that guide participants through learning materials, reinforce key concepts, foster critical thinking skills, provide opportunities for formative feedback and support, and evaluate progress throughout the learning experience. We develop a mentoring relationship with the learner.

  Cognitive Presence focuses on critical thinking skills. We want our learners to be active learners – to be actively integrating key concepts into their own worlds, exploring related resources, and adding new ideas and new knowledge. Cognitive presence is, in essence, the scaffolding of learning  as we move from the initial stages of knowledge and comprehension toward the critical learning stages of application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and creativity.  

However. even the description given above needs to be modified to see how it fits within the context of e-learning.


In the present evolution of E-Learning, pedagogy becomes a transformative force that is tied to a new vision and model of education. Creating a culture of systemic innovation in which students and instructors play a vital role as agents of change means that the pedagogy itself is innovative in its scope.

Relating this back to the need for a unified vision and blueprint to the future of E-Learning, we see the need for those who have talents and skills related to E-Learning to sit down at the same table and collaborate in designing this blueprint. For those who are members of the LinkedIn forums, we are greatly indebted to people such as Christopher Pappas (Instructional Design and E-Learning forum) and Ravi Singh, Santhosh Kumar and Srividya Kumar of the Learnnovators group who each week provide access to an assortment of resources and articles dealing with E-Learning. There are others who contribute to these forums that I have mentioned who also should receive the recognition due. However, we are faced with the question:

"Given the wonderful resources that are available, who can coordinate these elements in an orderly fashion so that they harmonize with the intent of a transformative pedagogy tied to a new vision of E-Learning, a viable blueprint for E-Learning? Are we not still seeing a fractured vision if this coordination does not take place?" 

I believe that the elements of the pedagogy tied to the old model of education, the industrial model, will become no longer relevant in a new E-Learning blueprint and will give way to elements that nurture a transformative and more vibrant pedagogy that reflects a new view of the learner, instructor and trainer as change agents in society. For example, the posting of lectures in an online environment will not engage the digital natives of this century or the next. Also, what about assessment that was tied to the old model of education? The cartoon below perhaps highlights the problem that was a characteristic of the old model:
Even assessment must evolve and move away from the standardized testing of the past. I have detailed in recent posts why I think that assessment transformed can become a real learning experience for the learner to the benefit of our societies as a whole.

Next...... How can we bring a new blueprint together? What steps can we take as instructional designers, instructors, trainers and innovators to start down this path of creating a viable and vibrant blueprint for the future of E-Learning? It really is all about the learner!!


No comments: