eLearning Manifesto: The current way of eLearning doesn’t add up to a “serious” effort for the designer or the student…

computer_frustration_smI have been blogging in a series about a recent movement in eLearning started by some key members or “instigators” of our field, Michael Allen, Julie Dirksen, Clark Quinn, and Will Thalheimer. Their “manifesto” of sorts is called the eLeanringManifesto.org. What an amazing group of professionals in the field of Instructional Design and eLearning that banded together to cause some “disruption” to the current state of eLearning.

Yesterday I shared some thoughts that Michael shared in terms of critiquing teaching and learning in an eLearning experience, i.e., The problem isn’t how present is wrapped. The problem is what is inside the box. We have all had those discussions on how something should look or even the most effect PPT bullet size. Crazy huh? But that isn’t the real problem. So what should we really be talking about?

Michael and the other instigators proposed the following prevalent and unfortunate values/characteristics of today’s eLearning. For each of these I have some follow up thoughts:

  • Content Focused
    Is today’s eLearning merely content focused? Are we squeezing in too much and at the same time squeezing out an experience with the content? Do we make it easy for the users to get it or do we want them to get in and do something with it? I could quote something here about giving a man to fish…
  • Efficient for Authors
    Are we focusing more on the author’s needs rather than the learners needs? How can we make creating the content easier for the author rather than learning for the learner? Who do our LMS companies believe they are making the product for? Authors? Students? Institutional Administrators? So much we could talk about here.
  • Attendance Driven
    Are we focusing more on enrollment rather than if the people there are engaged. If we bring up MOOCs here we know that Udacity’s holds the Guinness Book of World Records for largest MOOC (see Can we use machines to analyze students 21st Century Learning skills in a MOOC?). Their CS101 has had enrollments of over 300,000 students! But does that mean that 300k students were engaged in learning the content and with each other?
  • Knowledge Delivery
    Are we just delivering knowledge and assuming that the presentation of the content leads to mastery? How often do our instructors use the assessments in the course as an evaluation of their teaching? Are they regularly updating the course to ensure that their students are “getting it?”
  • Fact Testing
    Does our courses go beyond testing of simple facts? What happens if that content is left just as facts to the learner? What happens if they never apply it to a new situation? What if our heart surgeons only merely knew the parts of the heart?
  • One Size Fits All
    Is our feedback too prescriptive? Does every learner get the same feedback? Is the feedback based on their actual submission? Is the feedback diverse to the learner? Is the feedback formative so that the learner has the ability to change? Learners need to change right? Isn’t that learning?
  • One-Time Events
    Is it enough to have one webinar for certification of learning? Just because someone signed on to the webinar we have no idea wither they sat there and learned something from the other side of the screen or if they left, surfed elsewhere, or let alone had any impact on them at all. Imagine if an online student came into a class and clicked through all of the content in one sitting? Does that mean that they have completed the class?
  • Didactic Feedback
    Is the feedback merely didactic? If students are just being spoon fed to memorize facts how much will that impact them and will they even take the learning outside the course to new contexts? While didactic self-assessments are simple and straight forward, do our learners want to feel like they are learning by themselves and getting simple rote feedback from a computer? What good is this if we are just going to forget right after?

Michael concludes this section by telling us that these characteristics and values are unfortunately absorbing so much of our time designing and our learners learning within. He says that the research has shown that work characterized in this way doesn’t add up to a “serious effort” and it is not utilizing eLearning technology to its fullest potential.

From the values/characteristics listed above, which do you feel is the most detrimental to the current state of eLearning?

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About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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2 Responses to eLearning Manifesto: The current way of eLearning doesn’t add up to a “serious” effort for the designer or the student…

  1. Pingback: eLearning Manifesto: Can we take a dose of our own medicine? Do you want to take your eLearning? | coffeeanDesign

  2. Pingback: eLearning Manifesto: Can we take a dose of our own medicine? Do you want to take your own eLearning? | coffeeanDesign

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