E to p of learning 1

November 28, 2003

The debate on e-learning ("Educating e-ostriches", e-supplement, THES , November 21) treated the method as a ghetto. The original vision for the e-University UK Worldwide and Learndirect exemplified this approach. It is noticeable that both have moved to mixed models of learning with more face-to-face (f2f) contact.

Promoters of e-learning could take a lesson from the history of b-learning. B-learning is using books. Plato clearly saw this invention as inferior to f2f learning. He suggested that it promoted only the appearance of wisdom. Now, after centuries, it is part of our educational armoury.

E-learning takes place when students use online databases and learning objects, or when they email their tutor or contribute to a discussion board. This is a bit like talking about p-learning (using paper), which includes reading, writing notes or essays, or using a card index and the other things that paper is used for in learning. It is not a helpful way of discussing the issues.

Instead of talking about the channels, we need to start by looking at the learning outcomes and select the most appropriate pedagogic tools to achieve them. This can include e-learning elements.

Tom Franklin
Franklin Consulting, Manchester

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