E-learning concepts - Table of Content
the School of Future?
- When you have completed this session, you should be able to
- describe the different stages of e-learning’s technical evolution,
identify the effects of “technological convergence” in my own teaching practice.
This picture on the left looks very depressing, especially for those who spent happy days in similar looking classrooms, sat at old desks like these. However maintaining the traditional ways of teaching is becoming more and more difficult.
The information society is a carrier of a new social tension: the gap between those who can get economic positions, and those who cannot, grows wider. A digital gap can be created between the different social classes of a nation (when poor people or certain minorities fall behind) or between different economies.
In the development, or in the prevention, of a web culture, computer and Internet supply plays a prominent role, but it is not just a technological matter.
No wonder that those who have experiences from traditional educational institutions are sceptical of many issues relating to this new pedagogic era. There can be no doubt that the way knowledge is acquired in the 21st century is changing rapidly. School age pupils read fewer books than previous generations and when they need to look up something quickly, they will tend first of all to browse the World Wide Web, rather than a reference book .
It appears that teachers feel that there are many drivers and barriers to the adoption of computers, the Internet, e-learning and multimedia into the teaching system. Some are shown on the picture.
The opinions can all be readily justified, and are true in very many situations. Teachers, schools, and parents in the 21st century are all faced with new challenges. Teachers not only have to face up to these drivers and barriers, but they must also support students and parents in coming to terms with these drivers and barriers.
Among young people there are now many computer addicts. This is perhaps due to the fact that children use computers in a way that designers did not expect. However many claim that computers
- adapt users to superficiality (there is no need for thinking, only for trial and error),
- make users conceited (I can use it but my parents cannot),
- generate aggressiveness; (rude games and the uncontrolled use of games).
Krajcsi (2000) collects "the old troubles od the Internet" as he calls them, and claims that "the often cited harmful mechanism that are considered to be the threats presented by the Internet are not all related to the net but rather to old dangesr which existed before and resurfaced in the Internet era".
See some examples of this:
- The question of reliability: you cannot know who is at the other end of the communication channel.
- Authenticiy: to what extent can we trust the information from the Internet?
- The loss of sense of reality: those spendign too much time online, lose contact with reality.
- Alienation: those addicted to the computer gradually lose their relationships with other people.
- There is a loss of identity: you can become whoever or whatever you want on the Internet as a result of which you yourself no longer know who you actually are.
- Agression: computer games are alien to human life and make their users violent.
- The appearance of extremes: pornography and paedophilia; the Internet is the favourite gathering point for men of unnatural inclinations and extremist beliefs.
- Communication becomes impoverished: the potentials of the new means of interaction result in the loss of vibrant communicative practices so that language becomes stunted.
- Data smog: the abundance of information overwehlms the users since there is no of finding one's way through the mass of data.
"However, there is nothing mystical about the Internet. It is exactly the same as the world that surrounds it, a claim that can be easily justified since the world is also violent, certain people are evil, and sexuality appears considerably in our every day lifes as well. The world is reflected in the contents of the Internet and its usage...We should not disregard the fact that there is nothing else on the Internet, but uploaded content that had existed in the real world beforehand, it is nothing less, nothing more." (2)
Children can be immersed in the use of computers; developing personalities which exist only online, spending many hours in single user and multi-user games. But what do many teachers and parents know about computer games, and immersive environments? How does computer-based gaming affect our children? Are there any good effects from playing computer games? Parents buy computers because they feel they should provide their children what they think they need.
The ideal position is where computers and Internet are more than just for amusement for students and additional work for teachers. To get to this position, e-learning has to become a more efficient and more realistic tool for everyday teaching. There is also a need for more learning opportunities for teachers and in the development of new methods of teaching and learning.
IT infrastructure in domestic educational institutions has significantly improved over the past few years. However, a survey from 2006 about the “application of e-learning syllabuses for vocational training” shows that most secondary schools were only able to create proper computerized classrooms to teach information technology itself. Usually there are few options for teaching traditional subjects in computerized classrooms. There is still a need for further improvements in this area.
Is e-learning really the future of the school?
The development of networks and the Internet, and the numerous new tools, have started a new age in learning. It has become clear that not only must new learning concepts be defined but everything that we know about pedagogy, methodology, schools, students, and teachers, must be reconsidered and rebuilt if necessary.
Of course, it is impossible to digitize those centuries’ old, very reputable systems of learning overnight. Would we want to? The web has taught us not to design a command economy model for anything, especially social activities such as teaching and learning.
But can we afford to ignore the possibilities offered by the information age? Is it possible that teachers can keep control in the digital world without the knowledge and resources that the web provides?
If the use of e-learning methods is a possible way of reviving pedagogy, this poses the question: “Do we have enough resources for implementing e-learning within our school”?
- Are there enough computers in schools?
- Is there a fast enough Internet connection?
- Are there enough good quality resources, learning materials on the web?
- Are teachers well enough prepared and motivated to use e-learning methods?
- Write a report, in your learning diary, discussing the following idea. “The potential where anyone can publish his / her thoughts, and can take the opportunity to participate in the development of a scientific terminology really leads to the destruction of science?”
- Can students be involved in the development of syllabuses or lessons? Write your ideas and arguments on this topic in your learning diary.
- Discuss these concepts in the forum? Click on this small icon (here, to the right) and it’ll take you to the forum!
- Krajcsi Attila: Az internettel kapcsolatos régi problémák (The old troubles od the Internet), (in Jel.KÉP, 2000/3. 3-10)
- Information Society, From Theory to Political Practice, Coursebook, Gondolat-Új Mandátum, Budapest, 2008., https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/NETIS%20project/