In this post I will synthesize the information discussed in class during the first week of ADLT640 – Theory and Practice of eLearning. Much of what we discussed this week was a back history of the Internet, leading up to the current status of online learning in education. I’m going to focus primarily on the videos that was presented in Thursday’s class, the readings for Thursday’s class, and how these relate this to a few anecdotes and my own personal views.
I fully agree with Sir Ken Robinson’s outlook on the current educational model. There has been recent discussion about eliminating the summer vacation that the American Educational system currently employs. Summer break was originally instituted to accommodate for an agricultural society. Now it just puts most urban children behind in their studies; because these children do not have continued education for 2.5 months, they often forget much of what they learned the previous year (Read “Summer Learning Loss“). Combine this with the fact that many other developed nations do not have a summer break. This helps explain why America’s children are falling behind and not performing to the standard of other nations such as China and India (More Info). Further, because our educational system resembles an assembly line format, and because of the no-child left behind policy, we are truly doing our children a disservice. If the current system was working, I feel that the incidence of illiterate adults with a high school degree would not be what it is.
Another issue that I have is the “epidemic” of ADHD. In a 2006 TED talk (See 15m30s), an anecdote was related of a young girl who couldn’t concentrate in class, fidgeting and distracting other students. The mother took the young girl to a doctor. After interviewing the mother and child, the doctor said to the mother, “let’s speak in the hall.” As they left, he turned on the radio. Watching through the window as the girl started to dance around the room to the music, the doctor said, “there is nothing wrong with your daughter; you have a dancer.” This difference in personality, difference in motivation, difference in what earns our attention is what makes our society interesting. Trying to push all different types of people through the same educational system just doesn’t make sense, and I feel it’s time for American culture to revisit how we educate our children.
I see online learning as one method for this. Given the rising cost of getting a degree in higher education, universities must find a way to a) decrease the cost to students, which entails reducing expenditures or b) increase enrollment. eLearning provides one way to accommodate a larger student body without building larger auditoriums, without hiring additional faculty, and to allow for the flexibility that online learning provides and which students these days expect. My thought that online learning is the way of the future (if it is not already in that status) is supported by the “going the distance” article that we read which reveals the continued increase in online course enrollment.
Additionally, I found the discussion on the development of eLearning to be very interesting. Specifically, the development of the Internet and the way that eLearning has mimicked the development in human communication. As Dr. Watwood pointed out, eLearning is social, mobile, and visual, but also, the theories of storytelling and gaming are entering the online education arena. The Internet and technological developments have greatly impacted this development. In 1969 with the creation of ARPANET, the first transmission over the Internet occurred. The message was “lo”. Intending to transmit “login”, the Internet unfortunately crashed before the full message could be sent, something that modern-day users are familiar with but which happens less and less often. It is amazing to this that less than 50 years ago, the Internet could not support the transmission of 5 letters, but I have typed 676 words thus far which my blog site has saved to a draft multiple times. With the furthered growth of the Internet (the image of connected countries truly speaks for itself), the idea of TPACK makes sense. Teachers much understand their content, how to teach it, and how to use technology to accomplish that end. Here is the image of internet connectivity in 1997:
The development of eLearning over history is truly fascinating. Considering it’s continued development and the possibilities for growth and the different trends that education will follow (who would have imagined Facebook could be used as an education tool) is truly exciting…