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Posts Tagged ‘e-doing

Does anyone learn anything from school-sanctioned e-learning days? Do the kids learn? Do the teachers? Do the administrators?

As an e-learning practitioner and director before, I had enough data, knowledge, and authority to say the answers to those questions was no. I have even described many e-learning events as more e-doing than actual e-learning.

Now I ask these questions again because I only have anecdotal answers.

From my regular interactions with teachers, I find that:

  • schools still schedule e-learning days.
  • teachers require students to work only according to that schedule, e.g., students are not encouraged to access or complete e-tasks outside that time.
  • the tasks are equivalent to conventional worksheets.
  • the content might be superficial or peripheral, or are easy enough to be repeated in class.

How many times do we need to test if kids can do things online that they already do in school? They already have strict school structures and class schedules for that.
 

 
Do people not see that the point of e-learning is to:

  • provide flexibility?
  • push creative pedagogy?
  • accommodate different learning needs?
  • nurture independent learning?
  • test the effectiveness of something different?

This should be the operating principle of any technology-mediated learning: It is a means of change for the better. Schools should not be doing the same old thing in a different medium.

So in the case of e-learning, school authorities and teachers should not be focusing on dealing with problems that will reduce over time. In Singapore’s context, these might include technology access and procedures to access e-platforms. These issues will not disappear entirely, but they should not be what we concern ourselves with.

Instead, we should be dealing with e-learning issues that will persist. Amongst many things, kids need to be taught how to independently or collaboratively read, listen, watch, analyze, evaluate, create, share, and critique online. These are skills and values-laden processes.

If they are not taught these, I question the validity and quality of the e-learning. The students are very likely going through the motions of e-doing instead of actually learning something valuable.

So I ask again. What do the kids learn? What do the teachers learn? What do the administrators learn?

In a Straits Times article, a Year 1 junior college student complained about the downside of e-learning.

At the risk of beating an old horse to death, I’ll say this: What the student described is e-doing, not e-learning.

This is teach less learn more gone wrong. It is teach less, do more, learn nothing, give e-learning a bad name.

How do we solve this problem? Take away the e-doing and the attempts at e-teaching and focus on the learning instead. It is not WHAT to learn but HOW to learn that matters in e-learning.

Another way to deal with the problem is to integrate e-learning into everyday learning. This could mean designing blended forms of learning, avoiding dedicated e-doing days or weeks, and incorporating or taking advantage of informal opportunities for learning.

Collectively, these actions require a rethink and redesign of e-based learning so that it is seamless when viewed against other forms of learning. Given the right circumstances, this relook could serve as a catalyst for redoing the rest of the curriculum.

My trainee teachers are experiencing e-learning week. They won’t have to make the long journey to campus, but I am sure that they will be busier than usual. But it could be worse!

When NIE had it’s first e-learning week in Feb 2007, it was applied to all academic groups. The effect of often overly ambitious, untested, and unrealistic tasks was multiplied by as many courses trainees were taking at the time. It was no surprise that e-learning week became more like e-doing or e-suffering week!

I have my thoughts about this semester’s e-learning week, but I would like to hear first from as many of my preservice teachers as possible. I want to do this as a feedback mechanism to my colleagues.

So feel free to air your views, and as you do so, remember that you are teachers and professionals!


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