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e-learning is b-learning

e-learning is b-learning

First, let me say that I do appreciate Daphne Koller's initiative, to the extent that there is a vision of providing academic education to people who coulkd not otherwize afford it.

However, thus far e-learning is not developed enough to being able to offering a good alternative to on-campus education. Most e-learning (also higher e-education) involves little, if any, true interaction. There is even a risk that an increased trust in e-learning is used as a rationale for universities to rationalize and, thus, providing worse quality.

The kind of e-learning that Daphne Koller describes might be a good solution for the kind of learning that implies learning facts and memorizing. However, for the kind of learning that I would call academic, in which the students interact with teachers and other students in order to train on critical thinking nd becoming independent learners, current ways of arranging e-learning are of little use.

In my own subject - management and leadership - experiential learning has lately been introduced as a way to make the education more useful. In combination with critical thinking, I dare to say that management and leadership education has grown into a true academic discipline.

This positive development runs the risk of being ruined by focusing too much on an e-learning model that is not yet developed enough to offer true interaction. Beause higher education is about maturing, questionning, developing and growing, rather than memorizing or replicating.

Dr. Anders Örtenblad
Associate Professor and Director of Teaching Development
Nottingham University Business School China


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  • Aug 31 2012: Comments on comments

    I agree that traditional lectures are of little use in real academic education. No better, though, are the kind of video-recorded lectures that not seldom are offered at online-education. One-way communication and no real-time communication imply that knowledge is something that could be stored and that students' answers could be "correct" or "wrong". This doesn't really give any space for a perspective of knowledge as somthing that is created here and now, jointly by (actively knowledge-creating) students and teacher(s). While I do agree that geographical flexibility is one of the strong sides of e-education, the common expectation is, unfortunately, that it also should be flexible in time. It might be possible to arrange so that e-education can offer as much or even more authentic, real-time interaction between student and student as well as between student and teacher, as is possible in a non-virtual classroom. And space for the creation of common authentic experiences. However, the majority of existing higher e-education arrangements do hardly provide the necesary tools for successful interaction, neither do they expect true interaction from the participants. Thus, e-learning as it currently is arranged might be relevant for memorizing, but - unfortunately - not yet for true academic learning.
    See also http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1595452
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      Sep 1 2012: "It might be possible to arrange so that e-education can offer as much or even more authentic, real-time interaction between student and student as well as between student and teacher, as is possible in a non-virtual classroom."

      So basically have a Skype conversation/room of like 20 people?

      The advantage of the lecture-videos is that the lecturer doesn't need to be present at the lecture, and the students can watch the lecture at any time they want. This format is capable of supporting thousands of people in a classroom technically, which is not something that can be accomplished with smaller and more personal classrooms.

      And the other thing is that less interaction can also be a good thing. With the sheer number of audience a lecturer needs to explain to online, the lack of interaction can force the lecturer to explain a concept in a way that a layman would understand. Students can also just comment on the videos and say, this concept was really confusing at 3:23 of the video or something like that. So it's not like it isn't feedbackless, it's just not feedback in real-time.

      Well point is, I wouldn't count all lecturing as simple memorization and replication. Some lecturers are so incredibly good at explaining concepts that you barely even need to ask questions.

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