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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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  • Sep 1 2012: More comments on comments 2

    No, I am not (always) able to tell apart those who have studied at higher education from those who haven't. My intention by sticking to higher education in my reasoning was to keep to something I know well. I don'¨t know that much about school education (i.e. pre-university education). But I agree that such education is sometimes as academic or even more so that "higher" education. I also agree that such education should become more academic, in the sense of involving more questionning, people-development, exploring, and seeing-from-different-perspectives.

    I am able, though, to tell those who see education as knowledge-filling from those who see education as mutual and continuous knowledge-creation. I wish all education was more like the latter. Since I am a university teacher and researcher, I mainly want to debate the education that universities and colleges provide. Such institutions are often called "higher educational institutions". I agree that the term "higher" might seem like it is something better thn other education. This was not my intention, sorry for that.

    My main argument is that e-learning could be made and arranged so much better if we stop expecting that it should be time-flexible and not involve much interaction. There are so many other ways than traditional one-way lectures that we are using - at least at my university (University of Nottingham Ningbo) - that we must try to make available at online education. I refer to such teaching methods as problem-based learning, experience-based learning, service learning, learning by interviewing people, group tutorials, action learning, student-centred learning, role-plays, etc. As long as e-learning initiatives do not provide the tools for such teaching methods, there is a clear risk that initiatives like Koller's is step backwards.

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