eLearning –Beyond the Buzz
The concept of eLearning is hot. Blogs, wikis, tweets and even journals are proclaiming the rise in eLearning as one of the fastest growing phenomena in higher education, or so it seems. Computer-based education has actually been around a long time. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign introduced a computer-based Education Research Laboratory project in 1959 (Lepi, 2012; SAM, 2012). The University of Alberta Department of Medicine offered early versions of online courses in 1968 (Lepi, 2012; SAM, 2012). The University of Phoenix opened its online doors in 1989. The University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. launched its fully online MBA in 1997. These brave instructors and administrators were pioneers in eLearning education! So folks, eLearning is not new. There just happens to be much more bandwidth these days, and it seems everyone wants to jump on board.
So moving beyond this latest hype surrounding eLearning, let us focus on the tactics of eLearning. There has so many tools to produce effective synchronous and asynchronous learning modules, but most of us who are teaching in the medium are not doing enough to incorporate these tricks of the trade into our course designs. And the tricks mean more than simply linking to a YouTube video or recording an opening introductory audio “welcome to class” recording. The advantages of eLearning are that we can incorporate features into an online course that do not even exist in the face-to-face format. eLearning provides us with the ability to interact using writing collaboration tools (i.e. GoogleDocs), real-time interactions between instructors and students (i.e. webcasts), learner-created resource guides (i.e. wikis) and much, much more.
The eLearning buzz needs to push the envelope a bit more. The eLearning buzz should be about: are we doing it well?
Lepi, K. (2012, November 12). Who actually started online education? Edudemic: Connecting Education and Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.edudemic.com/online-education-starters/
SAM. (2012, October 9). 11 early online education pioneers who paved the way for today. [blog post]. Avatargeneration. Retrieved from: http://www.avatargeneration.com/2012/10/early-online-education-pioneers-who-paved-the-way/