Wednesday, 24 August 2005

The Seven (Eight) Challenges of e-Learning design

by Graham Attwell. See Part 1 and Part 2.

The eight challenges are (See Part 1 for details)

Challenge 1 – basing e-learning on learners own experiences
Challenge 2 – developing a rich and powerful learning environment
Challenge 3 – localizing the programme
Challenge 4 – supporting individual learners
Challenge 5 – developing sustainable and dynamic contents
Challenge 6 – recording, validating and presenting learning
Challenge 7 – developing a community of learners
Challenge 8 – developing programmes capable of flexible modes of delivery

In the second part, Graham answered his challenge. He proposed to use social software (blogs, wiki, tagging) to support a connectivist pedagogy (See Part 2.)

In a more concrete sense, the course would be: (my emphasis.)
Firstly, each student or learner will be given a blog space to record their learning experiences. The blog will also act as a portfolio for their learning (see my earlier blog posts on portfolios), The blogs will support track back and tagging as well as a personal profile.

But of course the learners will need some form of sequenced learning materials as a stimulus for self learning and communication.

That will be provided through an imaginary blog – or rather the real blog of an imaginary learner – herself following a course in self evaluation. Learners will follow the entries of the imaginary learner – Sarah Jones – and will be asked to comment on her experiences and feelings. Their commentary – added as comments on Sarah’s blog will automatically be added ion their own blog – or portfolio.

Well, this is role playing!

However, I would argue that this design has met the "necessary" conditions of a valid design, but lack the "sufficient" conditions to actually make it work.

I don't believe that locking a learner into a room with some books can create any learning. The situation might slightly improve if you let him/her out ONLY IF s/he can answer a few multiple choice questions, but I am doubtful about the retention of the "information" gathered and whether there is any real learning or knowledge growth. (see my distinction between knowledge and information) Collaborative/cooperative learning is the same. A group of learners in a physical room may produce some learning (human is social by nature), but a group of learners on an online asynchronous forum DOES NOT. When time is no longer any pressure, nothing will ever happen.

I would suggest that the design goes to a full role play simulation. Instead of just one "imaginary learner", let develop a scenario with as many roles as needed to cover the stake holder's viewpoints. Give them an "imaginary" social structure, some conflicting views and some supportive views from different "imaginary" friends and foes. Most important of all, throw in a compelling reason to act (see here and here).

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