Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Truth About Learning Technology?

After making the following post on the ALT mailing list, which seemed to have caused a positive stir (and one of many).  I've finally got around to reading through your comments you have shared and summarised my thoughts from them.

This question will have  been asked many times I’m sure, but this is what us Learning Technologists do.  I’m really interested in this and maybe I could be directed.

Putting the theory and suggestions to one side (although the truth may be here).  I would like to know where eLearning (of all kinds) has made a real difference to a learner.

For example, let’s say from the usual Word processed assignment to a collaborative peer effort.  How has that furthered individuals more than a conventional method?

The learner may need to experience the conventional first to understand which is better between the both then review that to get a true understanding.

What I’m trying to get is the true value of eLearning to get teachers to understand what impact it will actually have on individuals.  The SAMR model helps us to make the change, but I need to see the truth that technology does further individuals.

This may be more scientific.  But maybe visuals such as ‘big data’ or actual videos of it happening may be the evidence?

Or am I just talking complete nonsense here?  Just emptying thoughts.

Many of the discussions are held on learning and teaching strategies, methods, motivation, access and resolving pedagogical problems.

As Dawn Alderson reminded me kindly, "a good place to start is with self".

I strongly agree with Marius Jugariu's contribution of John Naughton's statement; "we invariably overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their longer-term effects", which he classes as The First Law of Technology.  I also agree with Marius on making learning memorable.

I believe that only individually and intrinsically do we know that if technology had a benefit on our personal growth and development.  But we don't always know this until deep reflection has occurred.  It's about what it does for you as a person.  However, flexibility and personalisation does motivate personal needs and ambitions.

It's like my experience with the Open University.  I wouldn't be where I am now if I didn't build my confidence in my ability to learn on my own.  Which is what this experience gave me, choice, flexibility and distance.  Technology was only a small part but helped dramatically.  It gave me the confidence to know that I could learn anything if I challenged myself to put me in that situation.  Time really does tell if reflection on long-term learning has worked.  I would say that one truth about learning technology is what I once said before, eLearning is really independent learning in disguise.

To conclude, technology, people (teachers and learners), methods and strategies will change over time.  But impact won't change over time.  Impact is impact.  So it doesn't matter what is used and how, as long as there is a clear impact on that individual and proves over a long-term period.