The Continued Expansion of Blended and Fully Online Learning

27 09 2010

E-learning, online learning, distance learning… maybe some other names I don’t know. Why are we using so many terms for just one thing? Are they different than each other? OR, are they not defined clear yet?

There are gaps in the definition and pedagogy of online learning and academics are trying to answer questions on this topic. I have listed some questions above to have your ideas about what I don’t know. Online learning is growing very fast and today’s trend in higher education is using online education to reduce costs, to have more students and… Like all other new things, it has come with some advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional learning.

Here they are:

From the week 4 class, with all the article we have discussed, the most important advantage of online learning is freedom. What is freedom in online education? It is freedom in time… If you are working in a business, you don’t need to be in a class in work time. It is freedom in location… If you are living in Turkey, you can have your master’s degree in Instructional Systems Technology Department at Indiana University. It is freedom in sharing, collaboration, learning… I know with listing all these fancy words, it seems perfect. However, we, educators and students, still have problems with it.

As I stated in previous week, people are resistant to change their beliefs and habits, and also we old people don’t know how to use all these tools. As an online class professor, Mr. Mister haven”t used any learning system before, and nobody is teaching and consulting him about how to use them. Also, he says that online class takes more time than traditional because students are always asking questions on the forum page and it takes a lot of time to write them. Students in his class are also grumbling that the class needs more effort than the traditional class to succeed.

Another American University professor is discussing the  limitations of teaching medical sciences on the web. She says that students in her department need on the job training and practice. They cannot learn how to cut a person’s body with the animations and visualizations. On the other hand, online MBA professor Mr.Master likes to discuss hot topics in business on their learning management system because it gives them so many interaction opportunities that they cannot have in the traditional class.

I hope my fictitious names and examples helped you to understand what I feel and understand about online education. I know we have so many things to say on this HOT topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

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One response

1 10 2010
Miguel

Quite interesting ideas and observations! I also think that freedom/flexibility is definitely one of the main reasons why the number of courses taught online keeps growing every year. Regarding the usage of the different terms, it seems that e-learning is mostly associated with corporate training; distance learning is a broader term that involves technology beyond the Web such as satellite TV; finally online learning is a term associated to the academic courses taken though the http://WWW... I might be wrong but that’s how I perceive those three different terms.

I do agree that online courses might not be appropriate to teach content belonging to Bloom’s psychomotor domain. That’s when blended learning should be use to leverage that kind of knowledge and skills.

-Miguel

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