At this very moment my co-administrator at Wendorf Academy is teaching a class using WizzIQ, an E-learningtool. Outside. Where his co-teacher and students are we don’t know exactly. Just that they are communicating via the web and don’t have to squash themselves into crowded trains or trafficjams this friday. This saves a lot of resources. But does it bring good education?
E-learning is new and exciting to me. We jointly put our courses at the Edu2.0 platform, at Wendorf Academy. Now pioneering stages are always adventurous, one discovers the pros and cons of E-teaching and E-learning by doing.
Three E-learning lessons I’d like to share. With my great thanks to fellow participants of the course ‘Train the E-trainer’ at Hamburg University (year 2011), co-teachers at Wendorf Academy and Utopia Reading Course participants! We discovered this together.
1. Good E-contacts presuppose Real-Life-contacts
It’s Real Life contact that improves E-contacts. This is why blended learning is the best option. Blended learning is the mix between meeting eachother live (be it classroom, cafe, meetingroom, or private) and meeting eachother on the web. You can pick up non-verbal behaviour and significant social signs. In a pure commercial transaction – buying a book at a webshop – we don’t necesssarily need to know how the salesperson coughs, laughs or smiles. But in sharing learning experiences, RL-meeting is important.
2. Never 100% trust technology and always have a Plan B (or Plan I for Improvisation)
Out of 10 E-meetings I had, say about 2 ran perfect. With good quality webcam, sound without echo, slideshows loading quickly, all participants able to speak and listen. At the other 8 meetings we sometimes had to do without video to save sound quality. Or someone was disconnected for a while, due to a slow connection. This can be a frustrating experience, but can be solved by patience, humor, or by using chat-functions only. This will improve as connections become more stable and uniform, but there will always be slow moments to solve. Unless you want to spend lots of money on superb connections and disallow private connections.
3. Enjoy beehivelearning
Of course we know the web brings together huge amounts of knowledge. But only when you see something grow, like a Wiki on a special subject, or a lively debate, or a collection of videos, you really notice people are given a voice. In a normal classroom there are always people who don’t get to making their point. Asynchronic (Wiki, Forum) as well as synchronic (Virtual Classroom) methods in e-learning get an awful lot of buzz and experience together. A beehive experience, I would describe it. There are small and big beehives, active and passive bees, good and bad seasons. How to make the bees’ activities worthwhile? How to save and pass on knowledge? And how to make bees interact and read eachothers posts? These are basically questions about attention, Aufmerksamkeit (DE), Aandacht (NL), one of the most important social resources to spend.
Attention is a social blood transfusion.
And Beehivelearning, I like that word. Beehiv-e-learning. A pity Search Engines are not very fond of new words. But that is no reason not to introduce them!