Common myths about e-learning

In my role as NSWIC I sometimes experience some resistance to e-learning. My last post focused on the importance of considering your e-learning content and briefly touched on what is and what is not appropriate for e-learning delivery. This post will look at some of the resistors discussed by teachers who have not yet embraced e-learning.

Myth 1 – E-learning courses are inferior to face to face study

Many e-learning programs cover accredited training and training package qualifications. Now I agree there are some rogues out there who simply put a course online and leave their students in this black hole expecting them to navigate the course on their own. Those of you who know me, know that my philosophy is to develop an appropriate e-learning strategy that considers the needs of your organisation, teachers and students. Solid e-learning programs are learner centric and focus on their skills and abilities. E-learning programs should be well planned and aim to meet the needs of the learner. There should be a good mix of learning, recognition, communication, opportunities for practice etc.

Employers also believe that e-learning offers an organisation a solid platform of delivery to build workforce capability and improve productivity. Check out the latest benchmarking and research conducted by the Framework to see what employers and employees really think about e-learning http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/content/research.

Myth 2: Online courses consist of PowerPoints and Reading Notes – how can a student learn from this?

Of course most of you already know that is totally untrue. Simply making available your PowerPoint files and reading notes over the Internet does not equate to true e-learning. If you using PowerPoint I suggest you add in a piece of software from Adobe – Adobe Presenter and build in some pictures, audio, video and interactive quizzes to make them more interesting and to give your learner a chance to consolidate their learning. Captivate is also another tool to improve the interactive nature of your presentations.

For those of you who do not have access to this software you could consider voice thread http://voicethread.com/ to bring your pictures, audio and conversations to life.

Myth 3: E-learning will replace the teacher

Another common debate is the thought that e-learning programs will replace the need for a teacher. Now I don’t know about you but I have done some online programs with no peer interaction or teacher support. This is hard going. I didn’t like it and I don’t expect you would either.

E-learning programs need to be carefully planned and facilitated. It should never replace the teacher. Your learners need support, guidance and nurturing. The difference should be flexibility. E-learning provides a greater opportunity for a learner to study in their own time, complete assessment tasks when they are ready to complete them and can assist with collecting evidence of competence that can continue to be built on after the e-learning program has finished. Don’t worry you will still be needed and you will have many opportunities to guide and mentor learners through their course.

Your program can build in plenty of opportunity for contact between the learner, facilitator/teacher and peers. I do stress however that the tools you (eg: chat, forums, virtual classrooms/meetings) are carefully considered and that they have a purpose rather than building them into your program just for the sake of it.

Myth 4 – E-learning is time consuming and requires a high level of skill

Okay so you might have a bit of a point here, you do need computer literacy and you will need to spend some time planning. Having said this, don’t you need both time and computer literacy to prepare your sessions and resources in the face to face environment. E-learning doesn’t need to be anymore time consuming than your traditional classes.

There are also lots of free resources to help you get started. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. The Australian Flexible Learning Framework can help you to build your skills as an e-learning facilitator http://flexiblelearning.moodle.com.au/login/index.php (login as a guest) and find free resources. Start by exploring the Toolbox repository http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/ and the LORN repository http://lorn.flexiblelearning.net.au/. Both of these databases have a search facility using keywords. Many of the learning objects and toolbox components are free for you to download, customise and use in your courses.

If you are in Australia your state provides access to a range of free services. Visit http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au for more information. If you are located in NSW visit http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/nsw to locate information about our services and how we can be contacted.

Please feel free to post your questions, comments and concerns about e-learning. Looking forward to a great 2011.

Your

NSWIC

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