Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't stop experimenting

Yesterday I attended the 10th Dutch e-Learning Conference held at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The closing keynote session was a virtual classroom by Elliott Masie, live from the US. After 10 years of e-Learning conferences it was one of the conference themes to look back and evaluate what e-Learning has brought us and may bring us in the future. One of Masie's points was that we focused too much on the 'e' in e-Learning, whatever meaning we may relate to it. In our instructional design we should more focus on the Learning aspect and especially include the role of the learner in the design process. What do we want him/her to do or to achieve? Innovation has the ability to make us enthousiastic, sometimes overestimating the possibilities and creating a hype. After a while we may find out that this great idea we thought we have did not become a success after all. One of the reasons is that we tend to move our existing behavior to the new technology, e.g. copying classroom based learning when we started using e-Learning. As long as we are aware that innovation has it's limitations and we do reflect on what is happening we can learn from it and improve our next steps towards a better way of e-Learning. One of his closing statements was not to stop experimenting, as long as we accept that we will mistakes and/or find out that some interventions may not work. Learn from it in order to make improvements.

During the Q&A session after his presentation Masie mentioned the ReSkilling project which may lead to huge opportunities for e-Learning. It's good to hear that the new Obama administration is making a big effort to create an environment in which people can be helped to stay employed or get back to the workforce by offering them maximum educational resources. I think it would be great if a project like this would also be organised by the Dutch administration, as we see lots of Dutch workers losing their jobs too or are dealing with a situation in which they have less working hours to spend.

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