Sunday, 26 January 2020 15:43

Live your eLearning myth in Greece of 2020

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Having worked  as an Instructional Design and as an eLearning developer in the eLearning industry since 2014 I think it's time to highlight some of the most notable myths of eLearning in Greece. At this point I would like to mention that having worked for various organizations (Amazon, University of Nicosia, CARDET, etc.) and having developed a serious number of eLearning programs in my career, I believe that I am allowed to have a solid view of the conditions that dominate the field in Greece.

Observing and analyzing the way eLearning programs are currently offered in Greece, including Cyprus, I can see the fallacy surrounding the industry.

Myth 1

eLearning is for children

No, eLearning is about everyone not just for children, whether it is GenY, the so-called Millennials, or GenZ, today's students. One of the key pillars set by the European Union is lifelong learning, aiming to upgrade of the qualifications of its citizens. Unlike children, the adult learner does not have time to waste and knows exactly what he or she wants to learn. Given that, eLearning has the advantage over conventional classes which demand more time by the learners since the millennial adult worker indeed has a limited amount of free time to spare.

Myth 2

Everyone can teach online

This is without a doubt one of the most common myths out there. I see teachers without the appropriate level of technological knowledge to be stuck into a loop. They just turn on Zoom or Skype and teach as they would teach a regular class. The teacher who is going to teach online should not only be distinguished by a high level of technological pedagogical knowledge of his teaching content (TPACK), but at the same time should be up to date with the modern teaching methods required by and for distance learning. Besides, the appearance of various eLearning platforms that spring up like mushrooms, makes me wonder if they actually help or do damage to the advancement of our industry.

Myth 3

A teacher with good technological & pedagogical knowledge of the content can develop electronic curricula

Let's clarify something. There is a vast difference between the teleconferencing courses offered online via software like Zoom, Big Blue Button, Skype, etc., what is pretty much described in Myth 2, and the design, development and the implementation of an entire e-learning course. To achieve a solid result, a series of techniques have to be applied and require the cooperation of many teams and professionals. Their responsibilities are briefly analyzed below:

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who will delimit the material, define the learning objectives, etc.

Instructional designer (ID), who is the professional that will choose the instructional approach to be used, taking into account the particular characteristics and needs of the users, trying to fill the performance gap that led to the need for the creation of the learning course

eLearning developer, the professional who will take all the material from SMEs, the guidelines by the instructional designer and bring the eLearning program to life using the corresponding techniques to boost learner’s engagement and dedication to the training material. In some cases, skilled Instructional Designers can be eLearning developers too, possessing pedagogical knowledge with content creation skills.

Graphic design team, which in collaboration with IDs and developers will develop the appropriate graphical representations to be used

Finally, it should be mentioned that the development and implementation of the digital material requires thorough control and measurement of the results after its completion, a process that should also be done in collaboration with the SMEs.

Myth 4

By using serious games in the eLearning course, the students will be motivated

The existence of games undoubtedly has the potential to enhance students’ motivation as according to a plethora of researches the mechanisms found in games can offer a lot to the educational process. But video games are not a panacea for decreased engagement. ELearning programs do not work on autopilot. The students and specifically those who belong to the GenZ want and need guidance. If the teacher is absent or rarely appears at the program itself, no matter how many games are included in the educational process, will never be enough. The reason is that educational games (serious games) do not possess the features that will make the user-student want to return to the game, as do the corresponding commercial video games.

Myth 5

An eLearning program is great when there is a lot of digital content

This statement is 100% inaccurate. The need to break the course into small, digestible pieces is a must for a course. This process is called micro-learning and finds suitable ground for those of us own a mobile phone and the device is an extension of ourselves. The trend in eLearning is small, digestible chunks of information, preferably in video format, that some people call YouTube-type learning. This trend makes sense as modern mobile devices offer minimalistic approaches in terms of software, which reveal their contents fast, making the access of information fast and easy. Huge courses with enormous doses of information will not only lead to cognitive overload but may also lead to dropouts.

Myth 6

The eLearning program is always “good”

The material is never good. Or rather to be precise, now it may be, but it certainly won't be forever. An eLearning program has to evolve and adapt, based on the differentiation of students' needs that change more regularly than we wish or want. Besides it has to make use of the best and newest techniques on the market. New applications, new plugins, new tools are constantly appearing that can optimize and improve an online eLearning program. Text, images and videos may looked okay some years ago but nowadays without the necessary levels of interactivity a training course will sure lag behind, and that is a fact because now students will turn their attention into solutions that require their participation not just their presence, which is educationally a huge bet.

Do some research around you. How many of the myths mentioned in this article do you encounter in schools or organizations that offer "unique" and "successful" e-learning programs in Greece? Unfortunately, as long as the educational industry treats eLearning as something complementary or even utopian, investing little, the results will be lower than expected.

 

 

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