In an earlier posting, the State of e-Learning, 2008, I suggested that e-learning was failing to meet expectations in higher education. In that posting, I reported that David White, Director, EU Commission DG Education and Culture, Lifelong Learning, in his keynote presentation Innovative Learning for Europe at the 2008 EDEN conference in Lisbon, expressed his concern about the lack of return on investment. He pointed out that national governments and the European Commission have invested over a billion dollars in ICTs for education, but have seen little change or improvement as a result.
The other, related, issue is the lack of innovation. The World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Committee on Technology and Education at its meeting in Dubai (November, 2008) commented:
‘Education is in a state of transition from a traditional model to one where technology plays an integral role. However, technology has not yet transformed education’.
In particular, although there are many innovative ‘projects’, often dependent on the work of inspired and hard-working individual instructors, and although many institutions have put in place learning technology and faculty development initiatives, there appears to be little systemic change (see Sangra, 2008). As the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) puts it: ‘The growth of e-learning has not significantly altered the way in which Canada’s institutions organize or deliver learning.’ Nor is this peculiar to Canada.
More recently, we have had the CCL report that concluded that Canada is falling behind other countries and the adoption of e-learning is slower than predicted – both of which statements are made without any conclusive evidence (see my review of the report). However, perception is as important as reality in this business, especially when investment in technology is dependent on public funding and support. In any case, Terry Anderson commented in his blog that he was saddened by Canada’s ‘lost decade in e-learning‘.
Thus, while plenty of evidence (e.g. Allen and Seaman, 2008; Instructional Technology Council, 2008) can be provided to show that computers and the Internet are now widely used by a majority of faculty and students in post-secondary education, there is also at the same time widespread dissatisfaction with the results.
What I want to do in the next few blogs is examine:
- first of all the expectations and goals of e-learning,
- then what systemic innovation might look like,
- and finally why there is little systemic innovation, and what needs to be done to change this.
Allen, I. E. and Seaman, J. (2008) Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008 Needham MA: Sloan Consortium
Canadian Council on Learning (2009) The State of e-Learning in Canada, Ottawa: Canadian Council on Learning
Instructional Technology Council (2008) Tracking the Impact of e-Learning at Community Colleges Washington, DC: Instructional Technology Council
Sangra, A. (2008) The Integration of Information and Communication Technologies in the University: Models, Problems and Challenges (La Integració de les TICs a la Universitat: Models, Problemes i Reptes) Unpublished Ph.D., Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
White, D. (2008) Innovative Learning for Europe, EDEN Annual Conference, Lisbon
World Economic Forum (2008) Report of the Global Advisory Committee on Technology and Education Dubai: World Economic Forum