Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Impact of E-Learning on My Teaching – Evolution, Revolution or Status Quo?

The adoption of e-learning tools and strategies implies more a modification of my current teaching practices (i.e., an evolution) rather than an extreme change in my teaching (revolution) or merely practising more of what I already do (status quo). I consider myself to already employ a range of e-learning strategies in my day-to-day teaching to increase achievement, although I recognise that I still have a considerable journey before I fully realise the potential of the technology available. Therefore, it is not so much a revolution as an evolution from a solid standpoint now - where I consider myself to utilise technology in a variety of interesting, effective ways - towards a future where technology and e-learning strategies are more well integrated into my practice, improving the impact learning has on my students as the efficiency and effectiveness of their learning experiences improve. 



To justify my consideration of my teaching as an evolution, I will draw upon the concepts of blended learning. I am steadily improving my use of technology as I gradually develop the blended learning approach which I employ in my programmes, currently involving a variety of face-to-face tasks supported by many effective online resources and activities. Garrison and Anderson (2003) describe blended learning as “the full integration of face-to-face and online activities” (p. 75-76) so as to improve the learning outcomes above and beyond what might be achieved from employing a non-blended approach (i.e. a single element – face-to-face or online – rather than both). Although I would not consider my current teaching to be fully integrated blended learning, in my opinion it does involve enough of an online component to be considered blended. As Garrison and Anderson (2003) see it, blended learning does not involved a perfect prescribed percentage of online time vs. face-to face for all situations, but rather a carefully considered proportional allotment such that educational outcomes for learners is maximised. In this way, blended learning approaches can be seen to be as individual as snowflakes, with instructors experimenting with proportional allocations depending on numerous factors that may affect educational outcomes. As a homeroom teacher of year 8 students in a state school, I’m well aware of just how many variables play into the planning and delivery of a programme, such that the mode of teaching a programme one year might be markedly different to how it is delivered in the next. Technology is a major factor in this and as the year progresses I find myself modifying my pedagogical approach with regards to e-learning as a result of situational changes which might include, amongst other things, an increase in the presence of hardware at school; improvements in networking technology, broadband speed etc.; the discovery of highly useful digital resources; and improvements in my own understanding of how to utilise e-learning in my practice. 

The evolution of my teaching is, in a similar way to Darwinian evolution, a process of change as a result of selection acting on my teaching approach, modifying it in sometimes subtle but ultimately profound ways as I attempt to fulfil my niche in my teaching environment. This adaptation relies on me increasing my digital arsenal which I can utilise in a blended learning approach. As I modify and improve this arsenal, the way I interact with my teaching environment changes too, refining and redefining my role in it. However, as my teaching environment constantly changes – gradually perhaps, but inexorably – so too must I constantly evolve. Adapt, or die – that’s evolution.

References

Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century : a framework for research and practice: London ; New York : RoutledgeFalmer, 2003.

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