Saturday, 19 February 2011

Innovative practice with elearning - reflections

A few reflections on the case study reading...

Some of these case studies do not sound particularly inspirational. While they undoubtedly had tangible benefits, were they innovative? Again, back to the question of what it means for elearning to be innovative. Well, a number of these practices (providing resources online, developing podcasts, computer-based assessment, etc) sound like they are old hat. However, given an analysis of actual current practice in HE institutions (all these case studies were HE), I wonder whether we really would find a prevalence of these elearning practices. More likely, I suspect, that while there is greater awareness of the tools and technologies and the potential of elearning, and that the technological barriers are ever decreasing, perhaps many of these practices have not yet made the transition to mainstream. In that case, looking back on these case studies of 5-7 years ago, perhaps they really were innovative. Also the fact that we now accept that practices such as those described seem familiar, it suggests that they are being adopted and integrated into wider practice - and surely that must be test of whether an innovation really makes a useful difference.

I’m struggling a bit to think how these case studies can relate to my own context - a technology consulting company with a CAI/CBT production wing. We have to produce what customers want, and if that’s what they ask for... I know there is an argument to be had about helping customers see what they want but didn’t know they wanted, but that’s for another day!

While I accept that these case studies might be argued to have had effects on social equality (they claimed to - one of the reasons I selected them!), I think that the link is rather tenuous for a couple. I think they seem to be claiming that online 24/7 access equals equality - I’m sure it’s a contributory factor, but I was hoping to see a bit more than that.

I liked the fact that reading these cases studies made me reflect not just on what value the technological intervention might bring, but also issues surrounding the implementation. These are crucial for successful uptake, and key lessons highlighted in the cases include the need for substantial stakeholder involvement at as early a stage as possible, and the importance of training in ensuring that everyone understands why you are pursuing this elearning avenue.

The cases showed some nice contrasts between large and small scale, school-wide and single-instigator, big-budget and no-budget projects, and all were able to demonstrate tangible benefits.

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