Sunday, August 21, 2011

ITs - Back to Basics

We've been listening for several weeks to views about online learning while traveling around the State to discuss the development of a Polytechnic eLearning Strategy for 2012-2014.

For some this is just more of the same e-learning rhetoric they've heard for the last decade or more. For others it's about new opportunities or solving existing problems. Some have stories to share of very successful elearning.

As these and other views were shared at a recent State eLearning Strategy meeting what emerged was a little surprising. Out of the extraordinary diversity of experience and passionately held views about urgent needs and potential solutions came the recognition that it was time to ask much deeper questions about the use of information technologies for learning.
  • What is good learning, teaching and assessment? (online, face-to-face, blended)
  • Where and when can learning take place?
  • Who can support the learner and the teacher?
It became apparent that it's also time to question some long held assumptions about eLearning such as
  • There is one best solution (one LMS, one ePortfolio, one eLearning design method...)
  • In-house IT Services provides for and supports all e-learning needs
  • Most students don't have off-campus access to IT
  • eLearning requires content development
  • Classes need access to a computer lab
  • Students can't learn without a teacher
  • Online learning is a poor alternative to face-to-face learning
Other agenda provide further reasons to question assumptions about how we provide education and training such as
  • High ownership of mobile devices and the new 4G network due before the end of 2011
  • The availability of a wide range of cloud-based managed IT services
  • The current poor financial situation and its impact on resources and support services
  • High-speed broadband through the National Broadband Network currently being rolled out across the state
  • The desire for more flexible and agile learning
Can we get back to the basics of what education and training in the Polytechnic is about and think differently about how we might use all available resources including information technologies to give students access to quality learning?