I’ve been going through the collection of abstracts from last year’s HELTASA conference, looking for a citation for a poster presentation that I’d like to use for an assignment. This gave me an overview of the event that I didn’t pick up on while I was there, as I tend to focus on individual presentations while at conferences.
One of the other things I noticed is that when talking about e-learning (besides the fact that there are many interpretations of what e-learning actually means), many presenters spoke of a move towards customised Learning Management Systems, that exist separate to the lecture. There is still a clear demarcation between the classroom and the online space, with little in each space to complement the other. The only thing that changed in some cases was the way in which learning tasks are assigned and marks gathered i.e. how learning was managed.
I think there’s still a strong belief that “teaching with technology” merely involves moving content online and into digital walled gardens, cut off not only from the greater online community, but even from students who aren’t registered for that particular module. There seemed to be a lack of understanding that the most important aspect of introducing technology into teaching, is that there must be a change in practice that is associated with multiple, bi-directional communication channels. Even the addition of multimedia shouldn’t be seen as an end in itself…it’s just a way to add meaning to the message.
This change in communication is what is fundamental. It’s about moving ideas, as well as moving between and through them in a way that’s difficult to do in a traditional lecture format, but which complements the lecture (or small group discussion, etc.). We need to move away from the idea that integrating technology into teaching practice is an either – or proposition. The traditional and the new need to blend into each other, using each strategy to reduce the limitations of the other.