Join Learnadoodledastic Mailing List

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to Pageflakes

Add to   Google Reader or Homepage

Useful Website Links

Monday, February 05, 2007

HE Institutional Strategies for E-learning

Well just as higher education embraces the notion of e-learning and start investing heavily financially, strategically and emotionally in commercially driven e-learning VLE’s such as Blackboard along comes those damn pesky web 2.0 technologies. After all the staff and student training that has gone into learning how to make that cumbersome beast (my view) Blackboard be a useful catalyst to promote and develop a sustainable and consistent e-learning strategy it is hard to contemplate that their may be a better way forward other than via Blackboard or similar VLE’s.

Now I am not saying exactly for sure what they way forward is, as I am not privy to the costs involved or the administrative, security and control issues, that said a strategy involving web 2.0 technologies should be piloted and I feel eventually adopted if not totally, but in a dual approach over the next few years because of the simple benefits that web 2.0 technologies can offer both students, but just as importantly to staff.

When one thinks of e-learning, the first thought quite naturally is of learning and probably most people conjure up an image of a wed page or maybe an interactive multimedia application. The crucial thing is from an institutional point of view is that apart from the learning, other very important issues are
• Communication between academic staff-students, administrative staff-students and students to student communication.
• Staff training and development
• Staff enthusiasm for the e-learning technology.

In light of the three points highlighted above it is worth considering what web 2.0 technologies can offer. I shall constrain myself to the use of just one web 2.0 technology which is worth exploring as a significant complimentary or maybe alternative approach to the Blackboard VLE approach and that is a wiki.

For staff they are relatively easy to use and learn how to use, they are for group collaboration either via editable web pages or discussion boards. All group members can send messages to each other within the wiki. All group members can choose to be notified of any changes to pages or replies to discussion board posts straight to their email accounts. Pages can be tagged for easy reference, wiki sites can be very easily backed up in html or wiki text format.

Wiki’s can be used for learning activities, project management, project collaboration or as a course management tool. Wiki’s can allow staff to collaborate on projects and developing module material together. The technology is and it has the potential to be useful, it will be up to individuals and groups how they make best use of it.

To give a comparison example, it would be far easier and save so much time in posting an announcement and associated document in a wiki, rather than in the equivalent announcement function in blackboard, especially if the author has to re-edit the announcement or change the associated document.

Another important consideration is that web 2.0 technologies such as wiki’s and blog’s are now becoming commonplace out there in every day life. They are important life skills that students and staff should develop as these transferable skills will be of great benefit to them personally and to future organizations that they work for.

Although there are many web 2.o services freely available on the internet, possible concerns from an institutional point of view may be security and privacy and delivery of service. As an example if we take wiki services on the web these can be made private and secure, as well as having minimal downtime. If institutions are not satisfied with the offerings of companies that do offer wiki servers they can always use ‘MediaWiki’ software which is wiki server software and can be controlled by the institution on their own servers.

To conclude I believe that over the next year or two HE institutions should most definitely design a web 2.0 delivery strategy and adopt and promote it in parallel with any existing Blackboard VLE setup so that they are in position to take the correct fork in the road if required. Personally with a well thought out implementation and staff training plan I believe that the uptake of web 2.0 technologies will spread quicker than an Aussie bush fire and it might have to be if higher education institutions do not want to lose competitive advantage.

No comments:

Add me to your network

Lijit Search