Friday, 8 January 2010

Value Learning Design not E-learning Design

Originally published in the Educational Technology & Change Journal.

I've been reflecting over the last few days on common questions I get asked as I go about my job as a Learning Technologist. Questions like "I don't have time to think about this" or "why should I use this?" come up a lot. It's clear to me now that a key skill in my role is to be able to respond to these questions effectively, in such a way as to cause the questioners to rethink their position and begin in open up to a new viewpoint. I can tell you now that this isn't easy. Here are some pointers:

- In my education context, the worst thing you can do is throw blame around. Talk about "what we need to do" rather than "it's terrible that we don't do."

- Another important point is don't just talk about the technology. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, in education in 2010 understanding of learning technology is low, so talking about technologies they don't have any experience of and don't know anything about is confusing and off-putting. Also, you want to be talking about processes and value they understand and can relate to. Further, it should always be about how the technologies fit into the bigger picture and it you just bang on about the ICT it's feel alien to their world.

- I also like to stress the the possible incorporating of learning technologies is an element of the learning design process. So, as an organisation, the key is to value learning design; to value giving time and space to reflect and think about how you teach. The potential use of learning technologies is part of this process in the sense that they exist as tools in the toolbox from which you pick and choose. I spoke about the tools in the toolbox metaphor a few days ago. Valuing learning design is key and it comes from the educators themselves and the management of organisations. So the subtle difference here is that you are NOT pushing e-learning because it ticks a box that needs to be ticked, but you ARE promoting good teaching and learning by engendering a culture of giving time and space to reflect on learning design.

- Yes, there is learning to be done. But I think a good quality educator should be prepared to continually learn and adapt. Learning and adapting is an important part of living.

- The change isn't so drastic. Learning online isn't different to learning offline. Learning is the same as it's been forever. Learning strategies may change as we have more options (more tools) but the end result is the same thing you have always been asked to deliver. All you need to do is understand how to work the new tools and, more importantly, understand the values behind each one.

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