The Transformational Power of E-learning

Great quote from the introduction of D. R. Garrison and Terry Anderson’s book E-learning in the 21st Century:

The essential feature of e-learning extends beyond its access to information and builds on its communicative and interactive features. The goal of quality e-learning is to blend diversity and cohesiveness into a dynamic and intellectually challenging ‘learning ecology.’ This interactivity goes far beyond the one-way transmission of content and extends our thinking regarding communications among human beings engaged in the educational process. Not long ago, the provision of increased learner independence in terms of space and time meant a corresponding loss of collaboration and increased isolation. Independence and collaboration seemed contradictions. More of one inherently meant the loss of the other. The transformational power of e-learning goes to the heart of this issue. We now can provide freedom and control within a vibrant community of inquiry. E-learning recognizes and integrates the personal and public aspects of an educational experience.”

Garrison and Anderson (2003) p. 3. Bold and italics added.

It made me think about how Socrates developed the elenctic method where the teacher became the facilitator and encouraged the students to discover things on their own. Debating and questioning were central to the creation and ownership of thought at that time. It appears to me that this is what teachers and educators are striving to (re)create in the current classroom with technology. It is not, as Garrison and Anderson put it, simply used to access information, but to build upon it. That should be the goal of anyone integrating technology into the educational process. This can be in the classroom or might, and likely should, extend beyond those boundries into the students’ lives.

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