I have been blogging in a series about a recent movement in eLearning or perhaps a “manifesto” of sorts called the eLearning Manifesto. 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. I highly suggest checking out their main site, eLeanringManifesto.org reviewing the manifesto and becoming a signatory.
Yesterday I shared Michael Allen of Allen Interactions initial thoughts about breaking the multifaceted pattern of bad eLearning. This big problem isn’t the look and feel of our eLearning. We wrap it up daily with the best wrapping paper and bow, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is what is in the box. All too often are we (and buyers) concerned with how the product looks yet little discussion is given to how we are going to increase learning. As the manifesto states:
Learning technology offers the possibility for creating uniquely valuable [e]learning experiences
What I have seen here lately is that the focus seems to always be on the “invention” rather than how we can “innovate” with this new technology (see the following post where I talk about this topic in greater depth Let’s talk more about the verb than the noun!).
Where am I going with all of this? Take an online course. You know, a space for learning that is done online… It is more than just an LMS. What is an LMS anyway? I often describe it as an empty shell or a pre-manufactured home. When we first get our “trailer” there is nothing more than walls, floor, and a roof. As an instructional designer I come in and work with the faculty to design what goes into the trailer. Maybe we do paint the walls and determine a type of carpet. We may lay out some magazines on a coffee table or queue up some videos to play on a TV in the living room. As the manifesto states:
elearning experience[s] can optimize use of the learner’s time, individualize the experience for full engagement
By itself, the “trailer” is nothing more than a website but with an “innovator” or perhaps a newly coined term, “Eduvator” they can facilitate student learning online. These Eduvators are not focused on building something new but taking the technology and designing new ways for students to interact with the content, the instructor, and perhaps more important… each other. So when students arrive for the dinner party at the “trailer” there will be things for them to watch and read but it is up to the instructor to entertain their guests. If the guests (or students) are not having a good time they leave. OK maybe some will stick it out in the back because they are too embarrassed to leave but learning may not be happening there either. You know. Maybe some are just there for the good food and once they have had their fill they may leave as well. But I tell you.
What do you think makes a fun dinner party? What do you think makes an engaging online learning experience?