E-Learning reflections on where we are and where were going…
I recently arrived from the US where I spent 10+ yrs teaching and conducting research in math e-learning. A couple of my first conversations in the UK have afforded me a chance to reflect more on e-learning. One conversation was about the influence of instructional tech-enthusiasts on educational practice. In another later conversation, I was simply asked if I was a “web proponent”.
I think both of these conversations reflect some of the under currents in the present state of e-learning. Here are a few:
1. While research typically drives practice, with e-learning, we presently live in a state where practice is driving research (paraphrased from a study).
2. When technology should be adapting to pedagogy, instructors, in many cases, are adapting pedagogy (very awkwardly at times) to technological systems (Gibbs & Gosper, 2006).
3. As researchers have concluded, research in this area is generally quite poor, often trying to measure the effect of some technology acting as a blunt instrument (Clark, 1994) -Richard Clark’s famous paper, “Media Will Never Influence Learning”, cited over 1000 times, addresses this important issue.
Is the news all bad? No… This is how I answered the question about whether I was a “web proponent”: “Yes, but only in a measured fashion”. The “measuring”, in many cases, is only just beginning as new instructional technologies are continuously being rolled out. However, when used in a measured fashion, some of what we are discovering may be summed up as follows:
1. Efficiency gains over human agent/tutors in instructional time.
2. Improved instruction through efficient use of feedback mechanisms.
3. Improved instruction through adaptive systems that individualize the instructional approach.
4. Increased access to “quality instruction by disadvantaged or rural groups of students”. (Clark & Feldon, 2005; Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2009)
Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.
Clark, R. E., & Feldon, D. F. (2005). Five common but questionable principles of multimedia learning. Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, , 97-115.
Gibbs, D., & Gosper, M. (2006). The upside-down-world of e-learning. Journal of Learning Design, 1(2), 46-54.
Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies U.S. Department of Education.