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Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

More and more…online

In Becoming ruminative in education on April 8, 2010 at 5:56 PM

We are no strangers to hearing about how education is changing. Consider this learning scenario:

In a language classroom, the class commences as students sit in rows reciting textbook materials while the teacher on the podium conducts choral drills. Pupils look up dictionaries strenuously to find out the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases. Blackboard-writing resumes every time the teacher finishes explicating some key points of the lecture, while students exert in note-taking on their notebooks. Late-comers or students who can’t make it to class for that particular session painstakingly miss out part or all of the learning from the classroom lecture.

Now consider this:

In a distance education forum, the class starts as students from different parts of the world sit in front of their respective computer screen with built-in web camera. The teacher teaches a lesson using live-streaming video and audio devices and students respond to the instruction spontaneously. Online dictionaries are resorted to whenever students run into new words and a list of synonyms, antonyms, word-in-sentence usage, automated pronunciation, and multilingual translation is available if needed. Instantaneous file-sharing enables the teacher to proceed with instruction smoothly while students take note by speed-typing on the keypad. Students who take absence can later find a recorded session of the lecture and learn to his/her heart’s content.   

The traditional model of education, learning in classrooms as depicted in the first anecdote, is challenged around the world as people take their education out of school into spaces they deem opportune. The spaces include their homes, libraries, workplaces, Internet cafes, and virtual reality. People choose these spaces because they can decide what, when, with whom, and how they want to learn. More importantly, a commonality that makes these learning spaces stand out is that these learning niches use technologies to enable all people, regardless of background, age, and intent, to pursue learning on their own terms.  This trend of independent learning is not to predict that mass schooling will perish. Rather, we are currently experiencing a burgeoning of changes in education system where people embrace new learning alternatives as practiced in home schooling, workplace learning, private learning centers, distance education, and online learning.

Questions arise as to why online learning is gaining momentum. And what different kinds of relationships does online learning promote than face-to-face venues? To help me explore this question, research and theories in computer-mediated communication may shed lights on me.

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