Sunday, May 11, 2014

My personal philosophy on e-learning and it’s role in the future of education

In articulating my philosophy about e-learning and it’s future role in education it is first useful to look to the academic literature for a formal definition of e-learning to frame the discussion.
“E-learning is formally defined as electronically mediated asynchronous and synchronous communication for the purpose of constructing and confirming knowledge. The technological foundation of e-learning is the Internet and associated communication technologies.”  (Garrison 2011)
I would agree with Garrison’s definition in that the focus of e-learning is on electronically mediated communication for the purpose of constructing and confirming knowledge  however I disagree with him that the foundation of e-learning is technology itself. Rather I believe the foundation of e-Learning are the underpinning pedagogical models and frameworks that inform the appropriate choice of technologies.
For example the lack of an underpinning e-learning pedagogical understanding in Udacity’s Massively Online Open Course (MOOC) platform is cited as a contributing factor to the failure of their MOOC courses to engage learners.
“The fundamental understanding of quality online learning in higher education was mostly lost or ignored in the MOOC hype.”  (Lodge 2013)
David Cormier defines a  MOOC as “courses which are online, accessed on the Web, and are massive, requiring a significant number of students to contribute to a connected learning environment” (Morrison 2013).
Thankfully there are many established e-Learning pedagogical models MOOC designers are now starting to reference to inform their choice of technologies and design of e-learning learning experiences. To illustrate my point I’ll briefly reference a few pedagogical models (Conole 2010) that I philosophically subscribe to and believe have influenced the design of an iVersity MOOC course (Manrique 2014) .
For example “Connectivism” is a model developed by George Siemens (Conole 2010, p. 18) based on the idea that learning is social and happens within a network. The application of Connectivism model principles within the iVersity MOOC can be seen in the screenshots below whereby the MOOC designer introduces the use of multiple social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. as part of a course ‘learning ecology’ to enable learners like myself  to make connections with content, learning communities, tutors and other learners to create and construct knowledge (Morrison 2013) within our preferred social networks.

"Constructivism" is a a model that argues that learning occurs when students are actively engaged in making meaning (Conole 2010, p. 14). The core of the iVersity MOOC design is modelled on the traditional ‘Cognitivist’ ‘approach to learning whereby learners develop their understanding and knowledge of a subject by working through structured topics, I also believe knowledge of the constructivist model has also guided the design of the topics whereby the video lecture, quizzes and forums are integrated on a single web page page enabling myself and other learners to construct meaning through being motivated to achieve a cognitive goal by discovering the answer to the quiz question and participating in discussion on the subject while watching the video lecture.

In conclusion to paraphrase Garrison’s original definition of e-learning my personal philosophy is that “the foundation of e-learning are the pedagogical models and frameworks that inform the choice of Internet and associated communication technologies to best achieve the desired learning outcomes”. As a consequence in the future, as familiarity of e-learning pedagogical models in relation to technology becomes more embedded within our educational culture  (Conole 2010) I believe the ‘e’ in ‘e-learning’  will gradually disappear from our lexicon to simply be referenced as “learning”.
Conole, G. 2010, Review of pedagogical models and their use in e-learning The open university, Slideshare, viewed 21/314 2014, <>.
Garrison, D.R. 2011, E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice, Taylor & Francis.
Lodge, J. 2013, The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs, The conversation, viewed 19/11/13 2013, < >.
Manrique, V.R., Isidro  Garcia-Panella, Dr. Oscar  Sampedro, Yannick   labrador, emiliano , Andrzej Marczewski, Montecarlo -  Escribano, Dr. Flavio Pagés, Cristina 2014, Gamification design, iVersity, iVersity, viewed 22/3/14 2014, <>.
Morrison, D. 2013, The Ultimate Student Guide to xMOOCs and cMOOCs, MOOC News and Reviews, viewed 23/3/14 2014, < >.

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