Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Musing on Salmon's e-tivities

This post comes at a relatively early stage in my exploration of e-tivities, before I've attempted to design any e-tivities, or had an opportunity to participate in any developed by my H807 colleagues. However, a few thoughts have been bubbling up as I've sat with the readings recently...
E-tivities, or the five-stage framework is highly geared to group learning. There really isn't a place in it for the individual learner. While it may be the case that constructivist and situated learning theories tend to point towards learning in groups, and the web, web2.0 and all that it offers are also highly social, we will still have individual online and distance learners.
I'm wondering how e-tivities relate to child learners. While the five-stage framework has time and space for stumbling through early technical difficulties and early socialisation, I'm wondering whether children's social skills might indicate a natural ceiling within the framework, through which they will not be ready to progress without further maturity. I don't know where that ceiling would or might be, and given the online-savy of many children, perhaps their online social development will take a different trajectory to that traditionally observed in the face-to-face classroom, but it seems reasonable to expect differences in the level of tutor/moderator support required by children and adults, or come to that, generally more and less experienced learners.
I was also wondering how I might apply Salmon's framework to the e-learning I see developed in my job, and I haven't yet been able to make it match. That is despite desperately wanting more (appropriate, tailored, well-designed and purposeful) interactivity, more constructivist activities, to develop students as independent learners, to provide more formative feedback opportunities etc., etc. So, why doesn't it seem to fit? I think it's because so much of the training we develop is focused on learning procedures, for example bringing a generator into service, maintaining a pump, or interacting with a complex human-computer interface to set up highly sophisticated equipment. In cases where it's training in a procedure that's required, I'm not sure that community socialisation, knowledge construction and mutual sharing can help. While all of these might make for deeper learning with greater opportunities for elaborating on personal knowledge, there's also the issue of cost and length of training course. In cases where there is a constraint that you must train x people in y amount of time, it's possible that the extra time required might make e-tivities an unworkable solution - a point which is perhaps supported by Salmon's acknowledgement (see Workshop on E-Tivities, slide 10) that constructivist courses tend to need a longer course length and greater e-moderator input compared to instructivist courses.


  1. Hi Alice, I think your musings are spot on.
    Salmon's approach is not necessarily suitable for all.

    Things like compliance training are more instructional than colloborative, and therefore not necessarily suitable. However there may be strength in collaborating to build up peers during the learning process. When I was a pub manager, the people I met on course became the peers I called for advice.

    It would be interesting to know the thoughts of those who teach young people, as I work with adults and therefore am not sure about whether this is suitable.

  2. Hallo Alice,

    I cannot give you any advise on how Salmon's model would work with children, as my children are about 15 and older, and I am not in elearning at all :-(

    However, I recently participated in an elearning course and they applied pretty successful Salmon's model. I designed a hypothetical e-tivity for my age group and being optimistic I would say Salmon's model could work, although I experience that my students need a lot more guidance, support and feedback, because they lack experience and their willingness to work on their own and to work hard for something, not being spoon-fed is sometimes low and it requires sometimes a lot of persuading and they require a tight time schedule, otherwise they are lost.