6/17/12

Filed under: ADLT 640 — Katherine Tucker at 12:07 am on Monday, June 18, 2012

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…

 



4 Comments »

18

   Britt

June 18, 2012 @ 9:42 am   

Agreed, Katherine, though for both pedagogical as well as economic reasons, I hope that we see as much potential for small group learning as for large group learning.

Looks like you ran out of time, but feel free to go back and edit to add your sources.

19

   Sara

June 18, 2012 @ 11:24 am   

Katherine,

Your example of having a ‘dancer’ made me smile. While I have never taught in early education, I have three young children and so I have started to research different theories to make decisions for where they will go to school. We decided on a Reggio Emilio preschool and if we can swing it, elementary school. It saddens me that so many school systems try and mold children with varying talents, strengths, weakness, and needs into the same box.

20

   Melissa

June 18, 2012 @ 1:38 pm   

The ADHD mention in the video was one thing I forgot to address in my blog that really resonated with me, and I’m glad you wrote about. The culture that has been created via word of mouth and pop culture (IMO), has really caused a shift in the diagnosis of ADHD. I think it’s the same thing with parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children–it’s something parents have attached themselves to in the news- and social media-saturated culture that has been created as a reason for things. Like you, I think education can be changed as a response to this widespread diagnosis/heavily medicated population.
I’m also really looking forward to proceeding in this exploration of eLearning. It is so exciting and I’m glad you and Linda are in my group so we can figure this out (and our roles in it) together.

21

   Linda

June 19, 2012 @ 1:02 am   

I too really identified with the ADHD information shared in class last Thursday. The fact that ADHD incidence increased with the age of standardized testing is not surprising, but very telling. As the mother of three boys, I often found myself debating medicating my children with their educators. They are each unique learners – one very traditional, one very kinesthetic, the youngest with amazing spatial cognizance but challenging auditory learning skills. They each responded differently to the various methodologies of teaching – and when their learning styles were not being addressed they would find other things to do! The teachers always wanted to medicate them to improve their performance….I guess that was easier than changing the structure of their lessons. We never did – but it required a lot of effort to help them learn how to learn! They are all successful young adults now – the oldest in a doctorate program for physical therapy, the middle one in his third year of an electrical apprentice program and the youngest going to college this fall. I will never forget one administrator’s comment to my husband & I that our son “was just one of those students that would always struggle.” Yet, when the same son got into high school he had an amazing world history teacher…that addressed all styles of learning – they did online virtual field trips, had class outside under the trees on nice days, he would dress as a character from the period they were studying and they played lots of games adapted for the class like jeopardy, wheel of fortune, who wants to be a millionaire etc. My son not only excelled but became excited about learning. He actually wanted to go to school!! It wasn’t that the teacher knew my son’s specific learning needs…it was that he knew everyone learned differently and he was motivated to include them all. That is where I believe online learning excels in opportunity. All different styles of learning can be addressed simultaneously. I do not at all mean to espouse that medication should never be used. I simply feel it is tremendously abused as a band-aid for an educational paradigm problem.

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