"What challenges and opportunities do you see for the realization of your philosophy of education in the evolution of eLearning as we know it?"
-the importance of building relationship between teacher, learner and the surrounding community
-developing the following abilities: play, story, meaning, empathy, design and symphony (Daniel Pink)
-the use of tools to support teaching and learning including online tools, multi-media, games and networks
-communication: feedback, reflection and assessment
-addressing emotional, social, physical and cognitive needs of all learners
-acknowledging and utilizing the spiral and weblike nature of teaching and learning
One profound shift in education was from teacher-centered education to student-centered education. The shift I've been noticing with respect to eLearning (or at least one I have inferred from my reading) has been a shift from learner-centered to subject-centered learning. I don't interpret this as a shift away from valuing learners. Downes (Oct. 2005) suggests that "learning is characterized not only by greater autonomy for the learner, but also a greater emphasis on active learning, with creation, communication and participation playing key roles, and on changing roles for the teacher, indeed, even a collapse of the distinction between teacher and student altogether."
Due to this collapse of distinction, teacher and learner form a team of inquiry around a subject to which they bring curiosity, expertise, questions, tools and resources. There has also been a shift in the subject itself: it used to be that knowledge was guarded, secret and learning meant earning the keys to the treasure box wherein lay the coveted "truth" that was knowledge. Now, the subject is wide-open, accessible to all. The roles of teachers and learners is to develop the skills, attitudes and aptitudes to make new connections, create new meaning, tell stories and synthesize pieces of knowledge into a new whole. This is achieved through open, transparent networks.
The evolution in eLearning emphasizes the importance of networks. As George Siemens writes "we derive our competence from forming connections... Chaos is a new reality for knowledge workers...Chaos states that the meaning exists... the learner's challenge is to recognize the patterns which appear to be hidden. Meaning-making and forming connections between specialized communities are important activities." (Downes, Oct. 2005)
eLearning increases opportunities for connection-making as barriers to this are disolved when the challenges of time and space are removed. If connection-making and meaning-making are what it means to learn, learning is not bound to the walls of the classroom. "Learning integrates into every aspect of our lives, from daily household chores to arts and culture. Learning and living, it could be said, will eventually merge. The challenge will not be in how to learn, but in how to use learning to create something more, to communicate." (Downes Oct. 2005)
I'm intrigued by Downes' question: How DO we use learning to create something more, to communicate? How do we communicate in order to inspire change, solve a problem, re-imagine another way of being? How do we communicate to make meaning out of chaos?
Imagining answers to these questions in a one-on-one, small-scale context is a creative challenge for me and one of the things I love about being a teacher. However, I get overwhelmed thinking about it on a larger scale. How do we use learning and communication to inspire systemic change in the areas of our education system which are best at serving the needs of workers during the industrial revolution?
Downes, S. (2005, October 17). eLearn magazine. Retrieved from http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1104968