(These reflections are based on a re-reading of a 2008 article by Grainne Conole)
There is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices.
Expectations in the first decade of the 21st century have barely been realised in the second decade, despite educational tools and platforms vying for space. The surprise is the consolidation evidenced by the likes of G Suite for Education and Google Classroom, the rise of the educator as celebrity, for example the presenter and co-creator of the Coursera MOOC Barbara Oakley and the slow transcendence from the dross of some highly effective learning Apps, such as the very different LingVist and Tandem for language learning.
The human brain and how we learn must be better understood and applied in e-learning design. Speed, immediacy, volume and complementarity which make up much of what is digital needs to accommodate a human learning process that is slow, cumulative, experimental, experiential and organic.
At a time when educators (teachers, lectures, coaches and tutors) require more time to consider the opportunities and challenges of education 2.0 their hours are being curtailed. Instead of participating in the choice of platforms, tools and pedagogies, teachers are being told what tools and platforms to use, with decisions taken by non-teaching IT and managers. If mismanaged, the autonomy and choices which give the teacher ownership of their teaching environment is being eroded especially if they find themselves leaning on IT and learning technologist. This relationship and approach to the creation of course content needs to become a collaborative rather than an individual one. However across education this requires a significant culture shift.
Whilst a decade ago there was a plethora of newly emerging tools and platforms these are consolidating through ownership and a tendency towards duplication of best practices. Certain platforms have come to dominate, what is more, to keep things simple, manageable and affordable, institutions pick and choose between a consolidating field of tools and platforms. In turn, the student experience far from being expansive is limited, albeit with platforms and tools that share familiar and transferable digital methods.
It is sensationalist to suggest there is any ‘peril’, rather there are lost opportunities that other cultures and societies may be quicker to adopt and take advantage of such as in South Korea, Singapore and even India, rather than in the West, in Britain in particular, where the educational models and institutions are wedded to the Victorian era.
The greatest challenge is not a digital one, but a human one. New roles for teachers and new roles entirely and how these morph and coalesce into a new more collaborative working environment is the challenge. Just as disruptive technologies in retail and music put the client experience first, so too must the student/client experience be put first and systems created and adjusted around their needs, rather than both students and teachers having to accommodate themselves to the systems they are told to adopt.