One of the greatest promises offered by e-learning is its potential to offer a personalized learning experience to each individual learner.
In traditional learning education providers offer courses to which learners sign up. A course consists of a fixed syllabus, or list of things to be learned or objectives to be met. The learning is delivered by a particular instructor using a fixed method at scheduled places and times. That’s fine as far as it goes, and indeed many of us learned a great deal from traditional learning.
But the online world changes everything. No longer do instructors hold a monopoly on knowledge to be dispensed to the privileged at their discretion. We are now surrounded by knowledge and the challenge of learning has become that of seeking the guidance to follow a meaningful journey through the information jungle best suited to our needs and interests.
Does e-learning ring the death knell for the discrete course and fixed syllabus? Will we instead see instructors marketed as domain-specific tour guides leading participants through the mass of available knowledge?
Personal Learning Environments
Recent years have seen the increasing institutional adoption of learning/course management systems (aka virtual learning environments) such as Blackboard and Moodle. These systems attempt to provide a complete set of learning tools under a single umbrella, eg managed content delivery, assessment and assignment management, a/synchronous communications and more recently wikis, blogs etc.
At the same time there has been a proliferation of use of numerous Web 2.0 sites and technologies including social networking, blogging, social bookmarking, Wikipedia etc. These seemingly disparate applications share the philosophy of placing the user at the center of the action. But much Web 2.0 functionality is readily applicable to support learning.
But doesn’t the (institutionally) fixed configuration of the learning management system correspond to the prescribed agenda of traditional learning? And aren’t the loose collection of technologies falling under the Web 2.0 banner ideally aligned with the philosophy of personalized learning, in which learners adopt just those tools that match their particular learning needs and style?
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To further explore the fascinating concpet of personalized learning visit these YouTube videos: