Computers are all the time becoming more essential as educational tools, while technologies are becoming more portable and cost-effective. We are in the arena where E-learning has been there for quite some time now but its popularity continues and so does its capabilities.
“Chalk & Talk” puts the traditional professors at their ease. They can communicate easily – at least they can say what they want to say. Whereas, E-learning allows the teaching objectives to be made very clear and to be consistently clarified by the student, step by step, according to the needs of that student.E-learning allows students to learn using approaches more aligned to the learner’s own preference. They can use more or less visual, auditory or even textural techniques, according to how the student knows he or she learns best, not according to the way the professor wants to deliver the material. The testing of understanding and comprehension can be done when the student is ready, not when the “system” says you have to. In short, E-learning makes the ‘Learner’, not the teacher, the most important person in the equation.
We have to admit to coming to this realisation rather slowly, and it has only been over the last couple of years that the technology has advanced to such an extent that my original objections – similar to those of my professor friend – have been overcome.
Today’s E-learning technology does allow for a far easier connection to be made between student and teacher. But it also allows for far easier communication between fellow students on the course. The sharing of ideas and materials is so easily achieved by technology that the really good E-learning courses build this into every module. It is no longer the case of “don’t let your neighbour see what you are doing”. Rather the opposite. The best courses build on collective learning opportunities so that ideas can be advanced, work can be checked and new approaches generated, in real time. In fact all of this mirrors far more closely the way in which international corporations want their teams of executives to work. They want to step away from “silo” mentalities.
One leading Japanese manufacturer was exceptionally proud of the fact that a significant engineering breakthrough in one division was communicated “within minutes” to fellow engineers in the company working in another division on another product range altogether. It was in the DNA