Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Categories of eLearning

George Siemens posted an article on categories of eLearning. There is a mindmap which worth careful study.

Just a few minor comments here:

  • Personally, I would have made a distinction between computing and communication. Both technologies are ubiquitous today and they are merging together quickly. However, by acknowledging that there are TWO technologies as our disposal, I hope we can open up our view of how to use these technologies in eLearning. The current emphasis has been too much biased towards the use of computing and communication is treated as a delivery tool. If we focus on communication and really understand how human communication is carried out, we may have more options, e.g. instead of focusing on "solo" learning objects, we should start looking at "group" learning services*.

  • I think this is just an oversight. "Archived Presentation" is asynchronous, while the process of creating the presentation is synchronous.

  • In terms of tools and delivery, I would include plain old phone, TV etc. into it. While VoIP may one day replace telephone, we can deliver training by telephone if we want to. So is SMS. I don't think eLearning should be restricted to IP-based technologies.

  • This last one really makes me feel uneasy! The collaborative tool listed are for ad hoc self-organising learning. There are other techniques and tools for collaboration beyond wikis, blogs and groove!

  • I think I want to expand a bit about the last point.

    Here are a set of definitions I used in one of my papers Supporting Collaborative Learning Activities with SCORM:
    Activity: Actions that a learner is required to perform.
    Learning activity: An activity designed to lead to a learning outcome.
    Solo learning activity: A learning activity that can be performed by a single learner in front of the computer, e.g. multiple-choice questions and rule-based simulations.
    Collaborative Learning Activity: A learning activity that involves more than one learner, where the learners are communicating with each other either as peer to peer or within assumed roles. We do not distinguish between whether the collaborative learning activity will occur synchronously or asynchronously. Our emphasis is on the fact that several learners are engaged in a learning activity or the activity requires the participation of more than one learner.
    Collaboration tools: These are tools that enable learners to share information, discuss ideas and communicate for the purpose of collaboration. Some typical tools are asynchronous conference and/or chat tools.

    The distinction between a tool and an activity is an important one. Asynchronous conferencing is one of the commonly used collaboration tools (Hiltz, 1984; Ip, 1989). Collaborative learning activities require additional design (from instructional designers) or may use a combination of tools to promote the achievement of learning objectives. Some collaborative learning activities need further customisations by subject matter experts to provide an appropriate context for the collaborative learning activity while customization of the tool itself may be necessary to fully support the collaborative learning activity.

    *I use learning services for group instead of learning objects because I don't believe there is any value of group-activated learning objects. By its nature of group, there would require communication among group members and that would require some kind of communication service (centralised or peer to peer).

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