About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Categorizing elearning

Ken Allen had a post entitled "Classifying elearning." This post is about what my first thoughts were when I read the title.

There are 3 different ways I thought of classifying elearning: by structure, by level of education, or by tools. Of course, there are many more classification systems out there, but these are what came to mind from my own teaching.

Classification by administrative structure

I begin my introduction to distance learning course by going over the different ways in which distance learning can be organized. There are five models:

Synchronous online: Instructor uses real time technology such as chat to students who access the course at a given time. This is especially changing due to mobile technology and access to social networking sites.

Asynchronous online
: The use of mostly Learning Management Systems in which there is interaction between the instructor and student and other students. Normally, all members of the class will have interaction only online.

Blended learning 1: This is when there is some classroom instruction augmented with online (either synchronous or asynchronous--usually asynchronous) instruction.

Blended learning 2
: this is when the instructor is at a different location (perhaps with a live class) and gives instruction to another class at a remote location. The remote location may have a cooperating teacher or they may have just a technician or moderator.

Learning objects and self regulated learning
: This form has been around for a long time, but technology has developed it so there is more opportunities for students to learn with out an "instructor". Rather, they use interactive media, have learning assessment at remote locations, and/or develop their own Personal Learning.

Categorizing by level:

Each level of distance learning has different needs and goals:

Elementary: make connection to the outside world, access locations and experiences not available in school, develop communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills

Middle and High School: Developing social skills, access to expertise and complex problems, learner support outside of class, making connections with the outside world

Higher Ed: Access to expertise, developing regional or international research communities and agendas, access to resources and complex problems

Adult or Community: creating dialogue within a community and consensus building, developing best practices and support system, combining and organizing distributed knowledge for redistribution, access to resources and expertise

Categorizing by Tools:

Garrison and Anderson use a useful system to categorized based on the type of tool. First generation tools were those used for one on one dialogue (mail). The next generation allowed for the broadcasting of instruction. It was one way communication, but to a large group. This included radio and television broadcasting. The last generation that they identify is what I would term as the LMS generation. These are tools that allow for two way communication and group learning. However, this is all managed through the instructional design using online technology. I see there being an emerging generation, networked learning. This allows for students to manage their own learning with access to multimedia learning tools. This also allows for both formal and informal learning.

Ken's classification

In fact, Ken was looking at classifying elearning in a totally different way. I see his classification more about the instructional design of elearning. But I will leave that discussion for another posting.


D. Garrison & T. Anderson (2003) Elearning in the 21st Century. London, RoutledgeFalmer.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia!

As I explained at the intro of my post, the 'level' of classification was subjective. I chose not to classify according to academic level as I took the instructional designer point of view.

However, I am also aware that people like to categorise, and especially teachers. Within every mode of categorisation all other modes of categorisation can exist and frequently do.

It is partly for this reason that libraries use the Dewey system - or other systematic system for classification. But of course, these systems are to do with content, not how the books are manufactured. Neither are they necessarily to do with the academic level of books.

The classification I chose is more like how library books can be illustrated printed and bound, to use a metaphor.

I hope this throws a light on categories.

Catchya later

V Yonkers said...

Ken, actually, I liked your categories when I read through them. I was just surprised as I hadn't thought of classifying them in that way. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, when I saw the title, these 3 ways to classify came first to mind.

There are some really good other sources of classifying elearning that I didn't even get into. For example, Brown looks at the process of developing community within the elearning classroom, sort of the social development process of elearning. Henri has a great list of types of online communities based on task, time, goals, and community. Michael Hanley has a great post on the forma-informal continuum, another way to look at elearning.

I think the difference in classification systems was a great insight into how the term "elearning" carries with it a number of assumptions that is not always obvious.