This is all still very worthwhile, but E-learning has become so much more. David Kinane of Dakinane.com describes E-learning as blended learning. David is an education consultant and leader in E-learning, working with a number of school leadership teams to empower teachers towards providing incredibly engaging 21st Century learning. My immediate thought was, that doesn’t start with “E”! Well, no it doesn’t! The “E” in front of E-learning is confusing everyone, according to David. It is widely agreed amongst E-learning professionals that one day the “E” will simply drop off and we will just call it, “learning”.
Well, isn’t that just going back to what we had before? The short answer is, definitely not! There is nothing inferior about what was being taught before, however we need to acknowledge that times are changing and the way that students are interacting with technology and within their learning environment is changing, too! I have seen many 3 year old children handling their parent’s smartphones with ease and intense concentration. We can’t stop it, its already happening and the question is, do we need to? There is much debate around these issues and we're not advocating that one should throw out the importance of young children interacting with the world around them through play and investigation – inquiry being a very necessary skill to develop for later on in their learning journey. We sometimes tend to think in absolutes and I don’t think it is this or that – I think that in this situation it is like a two-sided coined, both this and that!
The way children engage in learning today is different today. What grabbed their attention ten years ago, simply does not grab their attention today. If a teacher thinks they are going to put on a video for an hour and call that E-learning, they are mistaken. While it may involve using video clips and internet URL links, students need to also engage in their own research, in collaboration with their peers. They should be working on topics of interest to them, being free to be innovative and creative, using technological tools in a blended learning environment.
E-learning is not an end in and of itself and should never become that way. It is simply a tool, just like the pencil and paper that can be used to aid and assist learning to take place. One of my old senior teachers would always say, “Is learning taking place? That’s all that matters!” Children learn when they are interested in the learning process that is taking place. If they are screaming, “Save me, I’m bored!” then we are in trouble! E-learning should be more concerned with the process and skill development than being placed in the, “Look at me, look at me, look at me!” category. E-learning is a means not an end in itself.
E-learning will eventually become a non-focus and the blended learning processes that are used in conjunction with technology and student collaboration, should become the emphasis.
The most important question is, “Is learning taking place that is authentic and engaging for students?”