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Reminders on e-learning

Posted on: April 1, 2020

Preamble: I am adding this important note after writing and scheduling my reflection. I just found out that the creator of the video below, Raynard Heah, passed away recently after a battle with cancer. He was also the interviewer and narrator in the video. I knew Raynard for only a short period, but I valued his passion to share what he learnt with his colleagues. The teaching service has lost a valued son.

This was odd — my blog stats alerted me about an entry from 2013 was receiving an unusual number of hits.

That entry was my reflection about a video interview when I was the head of a centre for e-learning.


Video source

I could not remember what happened during the interview, so I watched the video again. After cringing at my droning voice and frumpy appearance, I was surprised at how relevant the questions and answers were today.

The three main questions were:

  1. What is e-learning?
  2. What are some common mistakes teachers make when implementing e-learning?
  3. How might teachers get a good start on e-learning?

The short version of my answers were:

  1. Here is what e-learning is not: Simply completing tasks for a checklist; trying to replicate classroom teaching.
  2. Mistakes: Focusing too much on the “e” and not enough on the “learning”; trying to transfer face-to-face strategies wholesale and uncritically to an online environment; assuming that being technologically savvy is the same as being digitally wise.
  3. Starting with e-learning: Plan simple but different; design for learner empowerment and ownership; leverage on what students are already doing or using.

The teachers and I elaborate on examples of each idea above.

In 2013, I concluded with this thought:

On hindsight, there is one other non-example I should have given about e-learning. The “e” in e-learning should not be thought of as emergency or extra.

That mindset relegates the activities to something you pull out of a hat when the school has to close due to something like SARS or reduces it to an afterthought.

That mindset makes the design of e-learning hurried, its implementation curried (too hot to handle), and its evaluation buried!

When we collectively get of the COVID-19 curve, will we have learnt anything and changed our expectations and behaviours? I reflect on this question tomorrow.

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