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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: More comments on comments

    - I am not at all against e-learning or online education or whatever we call it; I want to improve it and I react when people like Koller present it as a universal solution, without dealing with risks or disadvantages,
    - Sure, e-learning is cost-effective, but generally of low quality,
    - I am not at all defending the low quality that on-campus education too often has,
    - The kind of knowledge that I refer to is neither skills nor canned-knowledge; rather, it is academic knowledge, in the sense of a continuous knowledge creation in which students are as participative as teachers,
    - I am not trying to say that skills traning or learning as memorizing/knowledge-canning is unnecessary or not as important as academic education - I'm just saying that academic education is what we should focus on within the academy (i.e. within higher education institutions),
    - Khan's suggestion, that lectures on video are better than actual ones, reduces education to memorizing/knowledge-canning. A lecture that does not take the participants (that is, the students) into account but is given in the exact same way no matter who the particiapnts are or what they say and do - and which, thus, successfully could be video-recorded - is rather a meaningless lecture.
    - By "e-learning" I have, in this debate, been referring to educational arrangements that only or mainly use virtual ways of communicating (such as computer networks, cell phones) and that very often (although not always) are arranged in a way so that the individual student is able to study on her/his own, e.g. by video-recorded lectures, individual compueter simulations, reading instructions and flexible deadlines for assessment submission. If there is any interaction, this is often arranged as non-simultaneous written communication,
    - To make a difference, academic education must involve true meetings between people.

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