Chapter 2 of E-Learning: Concepts and Practices discusses the idea of e-learning and how it is relevant to people in their daily lives. I found this extremely interesting because it really was not something that I had given much thought to before. I understood what E-Learning was, but I had never given much though to the concept or how it really involves and affects people constantly in their daily lives.
Some great examples of these e-learning systems were given such as video-conferencing, WebCT, Blackboard, simulators and role playing. The examples helped to drive home exactly was e-learning was because I was familiar with all of them. Even if I had not used them myself, I had at least heard of and had a working knowledge of them.
The biggest thing that struck me with e-learning though was how widespread it can be. The idea that you can type an activity into google and you will be returned thousands of links that relate to that activity and groups and forums that go with it is amazing. People can really begin to make connections and share information in ways that they would have never been able to before. According to Holmes and Gardner (2006), “…e-learning means that learners now and in the future will have the opportunities to be tutors also” (p. 17). This is such an amazing concept that was severely limited before technology really evolved and took off. Learning is becoming more of a lifelong process instead of just in schools.Chapter 4 Review
Chapter 4 of E-Learning: Concepts and Practices deals with the idea of how education has changed as a result of technology. Students no longer contained to their classrooms or the typical school hours or their own towns. They can now branch out into the larger world and become immersed in other cultures and ways of learning.
With technology so readily available, students can choose to take online courses such as virtual high school or a class through a university without ever leaving their homes. These classes can now be worked around jobs, family obligations and sports making learning, both at the high school level and beyond, more feasible than ever before. Students now do not have to make the difficult choice between taking an additional class and having a job or playing a sport. Both are now possible with the flexibility of an online class which for my students, makes their college resumes look even better.
With the internet, students and teachers now have such an extraordinary amount of information right at their fingertips. We no longer have to spend long periods of time and countless class interruptions trying to answer questions. Instead, when someone asks a question that the teacher does not quite know the answer to, all we have to do is walk over the computer and google it. From here we can quickly answer the question with correct information and move on. Of course we need to be able to evaluate the source is a quality one, but that is something that is very quickly picked up on by educators because we are doing it so often.
In addition, we can now take field trips without ever leaving the classroom. According to Holmes and Gardner (2006), “access to collections of resources specifically designed for education is another important avenue leading to knowledge and knowledge creation, especially in locations in which access to public education is limited by remoteness or economic disadvantage” (p. 53). My school did not have the money for me to take my classes to Boston this fall so instead we did an internet scavenger hunt activity which took us to different places within Boston and throughout New England that were important during the American Revolution. Before the internet, we never would have been able to do this. My students learned, saw and experienced so much that they never would have learned simply from reading a text book.
Education really has changed by technology. The effects of technology are so far reaching that we forget what life was like it without it. As long as technology use is planned out, I really believe that it is an excellent and necessary change to the way students are educated.Chapter 5 Review
Chapter 5 of E-Learning: Concepts and Practices looks into the different educational learning/teaching theories that are out there and explains each one and how they tie in with using technology.
This chapter is great because it allows you to see what works within the classroom, what kind of teacher you are and what kind of teacher you want to strive to be. According to Holmes and Gardner (2006), when using the Vygotsky theory, “the tutor or perhaps a fellow learner is simply a facilitator who may guide them through progressively more challenging learning activities” (p. 83). Thus, this shows the idea of constructivism and how important it is for activities to be student centered where they are being guided if necessary instead of it being done for them.
The idea is to use technology to supplement all of these learning theories and activities. Technology is also just another avenue that these theories can be applied to and see how they are used.Chapter 8 Review
Chapter 8 of E-Learning: Concepts and Practices examines the idea of being able to use technology whether you have a disability or not. Too often websites and other forms of technology are made without thinking about how it will affect people with disabilities. Sure it makes the life of the non-disabled person better, but it also might make the life of the disabled person harder.
According to Holmes and Gardner (2006), “designing for accessibility is important if e-Learning is to help disabled students realize their promise and become independent learners” (p. 139). This is such an important concept because technology does have the power to change the lives of thousands of people who are living with disabilities. We just have to make sure that it is used to truly benefit them.
The idea here is that if we make some for people without disabilities, we then try and make one for people who do have disabilities or tailor your website so that it does not matter. When I was editing my eportfolio, this was one of the things I did. I needed to change the color of my page so that people who were red-green color blind would have an easier time reading it. It was a simple fix, but it made a big difference.
This chapter really got me to thinking about different kinds of websites and technology and if they were really user friendly. It also had me thinking about how I can use e-learning to help my students who have different disabilities.
Holmes, B. and Gardner, J., editors (2006). E-learning: concepts and practice. London: Sage Publications.