The Future of eLearning?

This isn’t in response to anything I’ve read or seen lately, this is just a stream of thought post that I need to get out there. The real strength of what we’ve done at the Solutions Institute has been built on our original project — Online IST. I’ve talked about it in the past, but lately we’ve moved so far away from those early tenants that it sort of has us (namely me) worried about where all this is going. In an effort to pull SI back on track I sat down with Keith Bailey, Associate Director of the Institute, to really talk honestly about where we as a team are headed. What we kept coming back to was that:

  • We aren’t a software development house
  • We are a powerful eLearning design and development group
  • We have outstanding eLearning design and development tools (D3 & Edison)
  • We have a proven ID&D methodology
  • We have way too many projects at the moment
  • We aren’t a web team
  • We hate maintenance

Ok, so pull all that apart and it becomes clear that we have traded innovation in the areas of learning and instructional technology design in for software and web development. When you add up that we aren’t a real software house, that we hate maintenance, and that we strive for innovation I start to get the picture that a good way to get it all going again is to return to our roots … those happen to be around eLearning, instructional design, process, and innovation.

The challenge that Keith and I will attempt to create for the team here will be one that sees us rally around one of our projects — an NSF funded eLearning course related to Information Assurance (IST 451 is the first course in the track). We’ve been plugging along in our tried and true methodology and it has bored most of us … if we can create a new research and development agenda to combat that I believe we may be able to pull everyone here back into the mix. Imagine:

  • Using our proven methodology for ID&D
  • Experimenting with new tools to give faculty the flexibility to change, edit, and contextualize content as they see fit
  • Integrating some level of social networking, blogging, tagging, and other new and emerging CMC approaches to change how students collaborate with each other and faculty
  • Delivering all of it on time
  • Crafting a research agenda around the methodology, the learning strategies, and the outcomes

If we could do that, I think people would get excited about it again and we’d feel like the work we are doing can make a difference now that we are nearly 10 years into the eLearning experiment. The only way this team can return to its roots is by creating a new challenge. I believe it’s just a matter of framing it correctly. All of that coupled with the blogs@ist and how it can all be integrated into that emerging community could be amazing. I guess all I can say is stay tuned.

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