Sue Waters Blog

Elearning Challenges for 2008!

| 11 Comments

Not sure which is funnier Stephen Downes creating a report card on individuals based on “their predictions from the 2007 eLearn Magazine’s annual round-up, and what actually happened”, Darren Draper taking Stephen’s findings one step further by doing a statistical analysis of the individuals to determine whether those that blog were more accurate with their predictions than the non-bloggers or me pondering about all this for several days. Obviously people will have varying feelings about grading predictions; check out Karl Kapp’s 2008 Predictions: The Pressures on! post and comments.

Does it matter if predictions are right or wrong? Well, I like Alan Levine’s reply to my questions on the accuracy of the Horizon report predictions “It is not about being right or wrong; but about having the conversations.”

So here are my thoughts for 2008 – they don’t fall in the category of predictions since they aren’t novel, a surprise, or unexpected – but are important to educators because they’re challenges most of us continue to face.

# 1 – Misunderstood

Many educators will choose to use technology with the students in stealth mode, within their own organisations, for fear of being ridiculed, misunderstood or told their wasting too much time using technology and not doing their job. My personal favourite was being told that the failing literacy and numeracy levels of students was directly correlated to my use of technology.

# 2 – Firewalls and Blocking

Inability to access web sites will continue to frustrate educators forcing them to use alternative options or encourage their students to access sites from home except for Australian students who may need to visit other countries to access websites if the Great Firewall of Australia is implemented.

# 3 – Bandwidth

For many educators lack of bandwidth will drive them insane; once again forcing them to encourage students to access sites from home. I can only hope that this will start to change in Australia, with our new Government, as it has one of the most slow, one of the most expensive broadband networks in the developed world however rolling out accessing high-speed national broadband network to educational institutions will take time.

#4 – Long Term Support

Organisations that develop strategies for long term support & reward of their educators, and recognise that it takes considerable time for their staff to progress from learning how to use a tool to being able to apply it’s use in an educational context, will be continue to achieve higher e-learning success than those that take an ad-hoc approach. From experience this support needs to be structured and scaffolded in terms of years, not weeks or days.

# 5 – Mobile Devices

While mobile devices will continue to proliferate, especially those able to access the mobile web, most educators will continue to be prevented from accessing their educational potential due to school or Government policies. Check out Ewan McIntosh’s thoughts on UK’s largest Teacher’s Union stance against mobile devices.

FINAL THOUGHT

If you are more interested in elearning predictions for 2008, not challenges, it is worth looking at Tony Karrer’s Ten Predictions for elearning 2008.

In terms of challenges us educators face – I am definitely bound to have missed key points! And it is highly probable challenges faced by educators in 2008 will be influenced by local conditions. What are your greatest challenges? What are your tips and advices for solving some of the challenges we face?

We should be having these conversations and helping one another!

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Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

11 Comments

  1. Hmmm…..You got sold a dud on the “Great Firewall of Australia” (aka the Clean Filter). Duncan is a stirrer and is totally miss representing the Fliter. Have you read his post? Suggesting that the government is going to shutdown some of the things he mentioned is just Scare Mongering, I mean email? Come on. I did try to point this out to Duncan, but it seems that he is an expert in Censorship as every time I make an argument against his points, he deletes them. It seems he is more into name calling then debating the issue at hand: Here’s To You, Deborah Robinson, Our Nation Should Maintain Free Speech For You, Even If You Are An Idiot.

    So be careful who you believe, there is a lot scare mongering (probably on both sides to be fair) in this debate.

    HTH
    Molly

  2. Hey Sue, regarding number one, that one’s pretty close to the bone for me as well. And when you try to do it all, it feels so hard to be misunderstood :(
    Hang in there. Love your work :)
    Jo

  3. Here in Canada’s British Columbia, I’m a long way from Australia. I’m somewhat dismayed to observe that all five of your points apply here as well. I wish there were some magic bullets available. I suspect we just have to keep on keeping on–exploring, experimenting and strategic sharing. Despite the hurdles and the frustrations, I have to admit that for me this ride is still a great deal of fun! Now that I’m right out of the closet as a bona fide Geek, I’ve decided just to go for it with gusto.

  4. Re: #5 – mobile devices – I was talking to my hubbie (who is also a teacher) about kids using cell phones/etc to “help” on tests. He made the comment that we just need to pat kids down before letting them in the classroom to check for any “contraband”. Oh my dear hubbie…..I must needs get you to start reading more……how can I hold my head up in our county when my own hubby is stuck in the 18th century!!!???

    I told him that we just need to move away from traditional assessment and towards more authentic assessment of what kids can apply, create, and utilize rather than regurgitate back to us. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. :(

  5. Soooooo Sue,

    I’ve been thinking about your post now for a few days now. Mostly about this:

    “Does it matter if predictions are right or wrong?”

    My answer, mingled with a few questions of my own:

    Yes, of course. And no.

    No, it doesn’t matter if you’re only concerned with “the journey”. Admittedly, the conversation can be engaging. Nevertheless, at times the “journey” simply doesn’t pay the bills. Other than an item of conversation, what good is an inaccurate prediction? Is it truly useful and if so, then how useful?

    Surely not any more useful than an accurate prediction.

    To conclude, I predict that we will think more about this, that you will write a future post referencing this idea, and that we will all learn together – not because of my accurate prediction, but in spite of it.

  6. Thanks Molly for your comment. Ultimately we will just have to wait and see what really happens with the Australian firewall. Unfortunately the reality of many educators throughout the world is we are being blocked access to many web sites of value and often bandwidth is behind some of the blocking decisions.

    Hi Jo – I think for most of us Number 1 continues to be way too close to home. I know that within my section I tend to just get on with it and not talk much about what I am doing; but in the long run is this the best approach? Certainly causes less heartache.

    Paul – I felt fairly safe in writing my challenges because they seem to be common themes that echo through people’s posts & twitter. Shame it has to be this way. Definitely enjoying the ride — and my networking with others like yourself makes the times I feel the need to talk less about what I do with others worthwhile. While I may not always achieve the successes I would like within my organisation it is nice to know I have inspired individuals in other parts of the World to give it a go.

    Hi wvskphillips – thanks for sharing your conversation that you had with your husband. While mine is not a teacher I could totally relate to it because he often looks at me as if I am from another planet. However it must be frustrating in your situation – sorry I can’t offer any solutions except to hopefully get him to slowly start engaging in using the technology himself as it does takes time to see there is a different way.

    Darren – I am sure that you spent your entire night class yesterday pondering exactly this question “Does it really matter if a prediction is right or wrong”. Well here is where your blog post comes into play. If the individual blogs, this means we can debate our thoughts on the predictions — while the original prediction may not be worthy — working together as a team, provided we agree with the Wisdom of the Crowd concept — means that ultimately we will achieve, hopefully, more accurate predictions. Unless off course we all reinforce a bad prediction. PS if we were only interested in money we wouldn’t do most the things we do :) And if the individual doesn’t blog? Will the conversation happen? I think you should write the follow up post!

  7. I mentioned money, but money’s really not the issue. The issue is accuracy.

    We constantly stress accuracy in prediction with our students. In math, for example, students are taught to estimate – or predict – hopefully preparing them for times in their lives that they will need to perform similar tasks.

    To continue, there are times when faulty predictions give rise to unacceptable consequences. Returning to math, if the mathematicians and engineers hadn’t been able to successfully predict the varying scenarios that were involved in sending a man to the moon, do you really think we would have been able to successfully make the trip? And what would have happened if many of their predictions had been inaccurate? At times it is critical that predictions are accurate – because lives are at stake – and to say that such inaccurate predictions are healthy (because they enable conversation) is simply absurd.

    Thus, you’ll never see me subscribe to the statement “It is not about being right or wrong; but about having the conversations”.

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