Are you pushing or pulling e-learning?


Is your organisation pushing or pulling e-learning?

E-learning is in high demand, let’s face it, and teaching and learning organisations are under pressure to keep up with demand.

Are teachers willing to embrace e-learning, or is it a constant struggle or ‘push’ to develop the skills in technology required to create engaging e-learning resources?

Is your organisation recognising the strengths of the e-learning champions to build skilled teams and empower those who have the capacity to develop effective online learning material?

I have long noticed that many teachers are not willing or skilled at developing e-learning resources. This isn’t to say that they are not great teachers!! There are some awesome teachers out there who are not cut out for technology, but they feel pushed into developing online courses in their teaching field. Understandably, this can be a daunting and disempowering task for some teachers.

Is your organisation utilising the expertise it has and embedding e-learning strategically?

A new report was released on 14th May 2009 called: ‘The impact of e-learning champions on embedding e-learning’

Some of the summary points are:

This report looks at the use of e-learning champions as a change management strategy and outlines common activities and guidelines adopted by e-learning champions to successfully facilitate the uptake of e-learning within their organisation.

It confirms that successful e-learning champions possess a defined set of characteristics, including:

    * Credibility – A champion is skilled in e-learning; shares knowledge, skills and resources; is passionate and tenacious; communicates well; is client focused; and problem solves.  

    * Support – A champion provides tailored, educationally sound solutions; encourages teachers/trainers to explore e-learning; supports teachers/trainers one-on-one; and reviews and adapts as required.  

    * Influence – A champion builds capable e-learning teams; creates communities of practice; facilitates peer-to-peer learning; recognises and showcases achievements; and nurtures influential advocates.  

    * Commitment – A champion makes e-learning part of the strategic plan; ensures e-learning is appropriately resourced; makes e-learning part of teacher/trainer performance plans; and provides opportunities and time to learn, experiment and review e-learning tools and products.  

The study has a firm message for employers looking to harness the benefits of e-learning, warning:

    * E-learning champions are often better recognised for their work outside of their organisation than within it. 

    * Champions of e-learning cannot alone embed e-learning in their organisation, industry or community. To sustain e-learning, managers and policy makers must assist and build organisational cultures and work processes that support innovation and the work of e-learning champions. 

http://apo.org.au/research/impact-e-learning-champions-embedding-e-learning

So what does this have to do with pushing and pulling?

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more E-learning needs to be embedded strategically into an organisation for the emphasis to change from ‘push’ to ‘pull’. By changing our focus from pushing to pulling, our approach is more in line with adult learning preferences and Adult Learning Theory. 

Making e-learning a part of the strategic plan; ensures e-learning is appropriately resourced; ensures the planning of professional development according to needs; that champions are patient with teachers who are not tech savvy, ensures that  e-learning tools and products are researched and reviewed regularly. 

If organisations strategically set aside funding for resources to be developed by people who have the skills, teacher stress is minimised and student learning will benefit. Recognise that not all teachers are e-learning champions and either ‘encourage’ them to develop skills or stop insisting that they develop them. Most likely, they are awesome teachers in the classroom and are best left doing what they do best!

Poorly developed resources, with little understanding of design and development strategies, will not do your organisation or your learners justice in the long run. WIthout the foundational understanding of development and design, often we are left with a Learning Management System which contains a bunch of Word documents and handouts. I have seen some online learning which has made me want to curl up and suck my thumb! 

In saying that, I encourage all teachers who have an interest, to develop their skills and their Personal Learning Network. … more about Personal Learning Networks here. We all have to start somewhere!

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