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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Is Online Learning the Future?

Well, it appears that I'm going to have to revert back to my discussion of the role of virtual schooling in the public education system. My copy of Distance-Educator.com's "Daily News" on Thursday directed my attention to an article from the UK, asking the question "Is online learning the future?" (see "Is Online Learning The Future?" - http://www.fenews.co.uk/newsview.asp?n=470). Also note that FE News has a blog as well.

Not as damning an assessment as "Are Superintendents the Problem?," "Virtual Schools on the Internet: Could this Cure Education's Woes?," "What Are Virtual Schools For?," of "The Next Big Thing in Public Education?" (those British are just so polite), but still does raise the question of where the balance between the traditional classroom setting and online should be.

The article itself, discusses the creation of what can best be described as a virtual high school in London and also raises some context specific questions (such as "should it be available to prisoners?"). However, the author ends the piece with an interesting finish, including a question that I have been wrestling with in the entries listed above and some speculation as well.

So what does the future hold for online learning here in the UK? As programmes begin to get off the ground and more types of learning are available, we shall see if it is a viable option in the future. One thing is certain though; the Internet will be a source of learning for students whether it is formally supported or not.
I thought that the final statement was quite interesting, but rather true. Regardless if we have formal virtual high schools or hybrid courses in brick and mortar schools, students are getting more and more of their information these days from the Internet. What does that mean for both the virtual high school and the brick and mortar school?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Derek said...

Michael
seems this theme is being repeated in your blog - perhaps there's a message in that?

An observation I'd make from reading what you've got here is the perennial problem that we're facing in the online teaching and learning world, and that is the issue of a pedagogical practice that is based on an institutionally-centred model. This in contrast to notions of a learner-centred approach. For many the idea of a learner-centred approach is something that is a matter for the confine of the classroom - a case of tending to the needs of the learner at that level. In fact, a learner-centred approach should matter even more at the organisational level - dealing with issues of access, choice, control etc.
My point is that in so many of the approaches I see to the introduction of online learning within an insitution - or at a more granular level with introduction of a piece of technology such as ePortfolios or blogs etc - the approach is something that is done TO the learner, rather than done BY the learner. We're too keen to dictate the terms, to determine the pathways, constrain the activities - in the same way we try to within regular classrooms - and then we try to do our evaluations and research from this perspective.

On the question of "is online learning the future?" my answer is that, while it may not be THE future, it will certainly be a part of the future - but not in the form that so many of our profession envisage it.

9:26 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

Derek,

You stated that "My point is that in so many of the approaches I see to the introduction of online learning within an insitution... the approach is something that is done TO the learner, rather than done BY the learner."

Do you have some examples for us of different approaches?

11:15 AM  

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