What is “e-Learning” in teachers’ minds?
16 years ago: Using PPT to present a lesson.
8 years ago: Playing a Youtube video during a lesson.
A former student has a friend who claimed to be doing e-Learning. She later found out that to her friend, e-Learning meant using the electronic version of the textbook during a lesson.
Another former student has told me that some of the teachers she knows think that doing e-Learning means playing a Kahoot game towards the end of a lesson.
It’s actually not easy to define e-learning today, as the field is developing so fast, and there is such a wide range of things you can do under the umbrella term of e-Learning. Also, it’s difficult to judge whether a teacher is doing e-learning because there is no, and there shouldn’t be, a rigid threshold for implementing e-Learning, such as 30% of the curriculum, or 25% of lesson time.
This is because e-Learning is only the means – a tool which has the capacity for (a) making teaching and learning more effective, and (b) opening up possibilities of new learning activities which would otherwise be impossible in a traditional classroom.
But e-Learning is only the means – the end is good teaching. Hence, if the e-Learning teacher judges that a particular lesson design will work even better without technology, then he or she should not do e-Learning just for its own sake.
But one thing that worries me is the quickly widening gap between teachers who are fanatics of e-Learning (who keep exploring and experimenting), and those who have a phobia about technology.
To the latter group of teachers, I can assure them that technology is the last thing they need to worry about when they embark on their e-Learning attempts. The applications and the technology have become so user-friendly and simple-to-use today that all they need is a bit of initial familiarization with the technical aspects.
The real challenge is still the pedagogy. What is your teaching objective? What do you want your students to learn, or achieve? What initial teaching ideas do you have in mind?
It is then you turn to the technology for support. Which application may help you achieve your teaching objective most efficiently and effectively? How do you design your e-learning activity that will reap the biggest benefit given your teaching objective?
That is why in e-Learning PD events, my maxim for the teachers is always: “If e-Learning works, it’s not because of the technology. It’s because of the teacher.”