E-learning for the 21st Century

February 19th, 2010 by Maria Moriarty

Contact North published two challenge papers in the last two months, both to encourage and further the discussion on the future role of technology in learning.

Fast Forward: How Emerging Technologies are Transforming Education & Training explores  the “developments in technology that will have a far-reaching impact on learning, teaching and the organizations which design, deploy and assess learning for students [looking] at their implications for access, quality and cost.”  The technologies addressed are already in use or presently at an early stage of development but although not necessarily designed with learning in mind they potential for learning without attempting to replace the instructor. The implications in using more technology-driven learning environment could be less time-consuming competency-based programs, and changes in the role of the instructor focusing on mentoring and facilitating learning.

In Strategic Directions for E-Learning in Canada, the author Dr. Tony Bates makes the claim that the integration of  technologies for educational purposes has not gone far beyond using technology to enforce the learning paradigms already in place and has not embraced the “use [of] technology to deliver the learning and skills needed in the 21st century”. In the last decade, technology has not bee used to address systemic institutional issues and to leverage open education resources, the development of specific educational apps for mobile learning and for virtual world applications has stalled, and there has been a lack of institutional vision and leadership, according to Bates. He continues to formulate expectations and priorities that need to drive the development of e-learning.

Both challenge papers are an enjoyable read. Even if some things feel like science fiction, the future implications of technology for learning are worth a discussion.