Two years ago, I started a blog entry about eLearning by saying, “When it comes to distance learning, I still have a long way to go.” Now, with my first two class sessions of Theory and Practice of eLearning behind me, I still have a long way to go, but I’m much more excited about the journey!
I admit to hanging on to my preference for traditional classroom learning. I love being on campus and having the face-to-face interactions with classmates and the professor. I appreciate the effective use of technology in the classroom, and I am addicted to the myriad information online that supplements my learning. But… technology AS the “classroom”? I’m still warming up to that idea, and for that reason, I’m glad this semester’s class is a hybrid class. Ease me into the transition.
My experience with learning online to date consists of required compliance training for work and professional development webinars for which I have chosen to register. The former has been mediocre at best — typically a lot of wah, wah, wah wah…
The latter, as I’ve come to realize this past week, has been rather MOOC-like, with the ability to submit questions to the facilitator but lacking any interaction among the participants. Both experiences have left me feeling there must be a better way to learn online.
One of the keys, I think, can be found in the acronym TPACK. My courses in this M.Ed. program thus far have helped me to think about different teaching methods and to understand the relationships between content and pedagogy. Now, I hope to learn how to integrate technology into that equation as well as discover “the new kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections” of content, pedagogy, and technology.
Along the way, I will continue to make connections between my current career path in marketing and my desired future career path in adult education. One such connection happened while reading one of the blogs assigned for our second night of class. Tony Bates wrote about his predictions for eLearning trends to watch in 2012. Bates’ first trend discussed the rise of tablet use in teaching and learning. In my current role at work, one of my areas of responsibility is to manage our email marketing campaigns, and the growing use of tablets and other mobile devices among the professionals we communicate with is changing the way we think about our email program.
Another trend Bates writes about is the increasing emphasis on learning analytics. Not a week goes by at work that I don’t get an invitation to register for a webinar or download a whitepaper on the best way to measure marketing efforts and how to use those analytics to inform and educate senior management about the success of the programs.
A third area of similarity is the move toward using social media as part of the learning process — much as many companies are trying to find ways to use social media to foster and manage conversations about products and services as an effective marketing tool.
And so I stand ready to join the party, where I continue to construct new knowledge from the strong, parallel foundation of my professional career, and where learning online becomes fun and effective.