As we near the end of the year, I reflect on e-learning in 2020.
Well, what a year it’s been !
Without doubt the major affect on people’s lives around the world has been the Corona virus.
COVID-19 has devastated many countries, both at the level of personal loss of life, and the economic impacts. It’s a year many people will want to forget.
However, it’s also been the year that online learning has received a huge boost in visibility.
Sure, lots of schools and teachers around the world used computers in their classrooms. And many university students were already armed with a laptop, or tablet, or smartphone, and accessing courses, at some level, from their devices.
But this is the year that a whole generation of parents suddenly had to “logon” to an e-learning system from home, during lockdown, with their children. This single factor alone raised awareness of online learning globally.
Our organisation, HRDNZ as a Moodle Partner, has seen approximately 50% growth this year. Whilst training has been down slightly, as a result of people not investing in training when staff may not be retained, the major growth has been in new clients wanting Moodle site. Not just education as core organisations. All types of organisation, from all types of sectors from manufacturing to healthcare have started to look at online learning as a solution for delivering training to staff during lockdowns. What a great solution! Perhaps some have been exposed for the first time as parents of school children logging in to their LMS?
Of course, it hasn’t all been positive.
I’ve heard numerous stories that go like this … “We have a professor who says online learning is terrible and completely ineffective.” When we look at what that professor was doing, they were broadcasting using Zoom, to 120 students, and complaining that there was no interaction.
Wow. Here’s some takeaways from this and similar…
- Zoom is NOT e-learning !
Sure it’s a really effective video-conference and webinar system (I wish I had bought shares in 2019!) but for anyone to think that “Zoom in online learning” is awful – especially when it’s a university academic who should know better, and be far better versed in education theory and practice.
- Even if Zoom, Skype, Teams, BigBlueButton, or an other of the V-C systems out there are used, this is only a PART of what e-learning is about. There are resources, quizzes, forums, chats, assignments, collaboration, and many other activities that can take place.
- There has been lots of money spent on Learning Management Systems, and staff development, and yet when the time came to use it, because it was the only way, a LOT of organisations and individuals were exposed as highly ineffective in using the technology to support learners. In many cases, this is simply unforgivable.
So, my hope for 2021 is that online learning can continue to develop, as can the educators, teachers, trainers, etc. who use it, and it can be ready to “fill the gap” when next needed. No-one can assume that pandemics and lockdowns will never happen again. And there is a solution, at least an effective part solution, in the form of online learning to help so many people through these times. Let’s improve it, let’s use it. Let’s be ready next time.