My experience as a result of this programme, both as a learner and Trainer who develops courses, has increased my conviction that eLearning is the future for my Department (Department of Agriculture Food and Marine) but changes need to be made. The introduction of tools to allow us to engage and work collaboratively with students will provide a richer learning experience for staff. As a Training Unit we need to move away from the Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side and allow learners to input into their learning.
eLearning is defined by Nichols (2003) as the:
use of various technological tools that are either Web-based, Web-distributed or Webcapable for the purposes of education.
My biggest take away from the course is that elearning is learning with an electronic element, but it is still learning. in the 21st century we have to give staff the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, creativity, and innovative thinking to help them define their own personal development. This course may be coming to an end now but it is just the start of the elearning journey for the Department.
eLearning is not merely a repository of electronic documents that anyone can access it has to take into account the learners style of learning as well as their individual needs. It needs to present them with timely information and challenge their learning and behaviours. I’ve found that where there is this direct link between learning activities and assessments to the module learning outcomes, the course seems more cohesive. This is in agreement with Biggs and Tang (2007) who state
systematically align the teaching/learning activities, and the assessment tasks to the intended learning outcomes.
I am strongly swayed towards constructivist theory, particularly social constructivism which centres learning with the student and their own experimentation, observation and social interactions. Online tools allow me to engage and challenge my learners as well as allowing them to collaborate with one another. Lai and Wong (2011) advocated the usage of Blogs and Wikis in particular because of how teacher and peer feedback can be easily facilitated. Moodle was identified as the Learning Management System of choice and is built on a social Constructivist pedagogy (Moodle site). I will need to look into wikis further to see if they can help support staff.
Communities of Practice are “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2002). There is scope within the Department to establish different Communities of Practice help assist peer-to-peer learning.
Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age may involve e-enhancements to existing models and it is not radical new thinking (Mayes & de Freitas, 2004). This struck a chord with me as a lot of the analysis and development for training courses needs to continue but it is during the deployment stage we will look at elearning, face-2-face or a blended approach. They also reiterate the huge potential of Web 2.0 tools for sharing and collaboration however with the restriction on our network this could prove challenging.
My underlying philosophy has remained consistent throughout this MSc, in so far as the ‘e’ in elearning refers to an electronic element for delivery. During the design phase of courses it has opened my, and other Trainers in the Department, eyes to the importance of collaboration with learners. I have gained beneficial knowledge of the tools and expertise that of the technology that can be used to develop elearning content and purchased licences for Articulate Storyline and Camtasia as well as using free online tools. more social and collaborative approach will lead to a deeper learning experience for the learners and allow them to acquire additional 21st century skills as I have done throughout the last two years.
Biggs, J., Tang, C. (2007), Teaching for Quality Learning at University, 3rd ed, Open University Press, Berkshire
Lai, Y. and Wong, T., 2011. Integrating Assessment for Learning Strategies in Web 2.0 Learning Activities. IN: Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference, May 2011, Singapore
Mayes T., & de Freitas S. (2004), Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models, London, Joint Information Systems Committee. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/outcomes.aspx
Moodle Site, Pedagogy, https://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Pedagogy, accessed on numerous occations
Nichols, M. (2003). A theory for eLearning. Educational Technology & Society, [online] 6(2), 1-10, http://ifets.ieee.org/periodical/6-2/1.html
Wenger, E. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice : a guide to managing knowledge.Harvard Business School Press