Challenges and Opportunities in realizing my philosophy of education in an E-Learning Environment
This post will be answering this guiding question:
What challenges and opportunities do you see for the realization of your philosophy of education in the evolution of eLearning as we know it?
I find that my philosophy of education is in a constant state of flux as I gain experience as a teacher, and progress through the OLTD program. While many of the details of my philosophy are shifting, my core belief has settled into a (hopefully?) coherent statement. If it could be boiled down into a tweet it may read:
Students should create meaning through content that influences, and is influenced by their learning community, and utilizes their inherent skills, challenging them to think critically about their world.
201 characters with spaces. Not quite under the 140 limit, and not fully representative, but hopefully robust enough for the purpose of this post.
I think the opportunities to realize my “philosophy of education” are almost endless, and growing by the day. Reading through Stephen Downes blog post, I was amazed to see that the post was written in 2005, eons ago in digital terms! It reminded me of an article I recently read on the guardian website that talked about the staying power of web 2.0 tools, and the importance of network effects and “stickiness” (the extent to which users will return to the site). It made me wonder how many of these companies Stephen mentions are still operating, and while clicking through the hyper-links, found that most of the sites are still around, although many more are now competing in this arena.
What excites me most about this new frontier of learning is how new it is. I never really thought I would have a “when I was younger” story to share as I got older, but I seem to be uttering these words to my students more and more with regards to the internet and mobile technology: “we had to use encyclopedias for research”, “we had to memorize each others phone numbers”, “We had to use the phone book” etc. And I’m not even old! It’s a testament to how fast things are moving, that our students are growing up in a completely different world than the one we did.
I like the fact that we have so many tools available to us to aid in creation. I love music, and have always been interested in recording music. When I was younger I used to spend more money than would be considered reasonable on renting or buying audio recording devices so that I could make songs with my friends. Today better versions of all of these technologies come pre bundled on any new computer you buy. Money is no longer the obstacle it once was. I think we will soon be at a place where students are more limited by their imaginations than by any other factor, and that is an environment that I want to foster and take part in.
The main challenge I see has little to do with the qualities of e-learning, but with the rate at which it is adopted by schools and teachers. The tools are available to create personalized learning environments for our students, but they are still used mainly by early adopters. E-learning will continue to evolve and become more malleable to the needs of its students, but it is the evolution in its adoption that seems most important to me. As Downes states in one of his blog posts :
“Web 2.0 is an attitude not a technology. It’s about enabling and encouraging participation through open applications and services, …With rights granted to use the content in new and exciting contexts”
At each of the many schools that I sub at there are a small amount of teachers engaging their students through e-learning methods, and as these approaches become successful, I expect them to become more ubiquitous. As attitudes shift, and successes occur, the amount of students learning through Web 2.0 technologies will increase, strengthening this network of peers, and enabling more opportunities to connect, share, and create together.