E-Learning is one of the results of the E-Commerce Bubble. During the E-Commerce Bubble everything you can imagine would be changed into a booming business if it was combined with The Internet (a Website).
When you would use the Internet you could learn Everywhere at Every ]]><![CDATA[place at Any time. Every "old-fashioned" system that was supporting an Educational Institution was E-ed. It was provided with a "web-site"-interface. Behind this interface nothing changed.
The "old-fashioned" E-Learning packages were designed to automate a professional educational environment. The only thing that changed was that the books (or the PPT's) were put on a screen.
E-Learning is an example of a technological view on Education. Every new technology that emerges has-to-be used because they (the learners) use it and because they use it it will help them to be educated.
We HAVE TO use the mobile phone and wiki and forums and web-cams and 3-D and games and web 2.0 (or 3.0) and …. If we don’t do that we will be out of the competition..
The big question is are new technologies really helpful to improve the current learning environment?
My answer is that it matters and it does not matter. It matters because we have to stay in contact with “real life”” and it does not matter because an effective learning environment has nothing to do with technology in general.
We learn by practicing and every environment that is related to the practice we want to acquire works fine. So if you want to become an account-manager and to sell you need an mobile-phone you have to learn to use a mobile phone.
But when you want to learn how to fight terrorists you need to learn to use other tools also.
Is it possible to learn “how to design” on a computer?
Is it possible to learn to meditate on a computer?
Is it possible to learn “to be creative” on a computer?
We don’t learn to play the piano on a mobile phone and we don’t learn to use a mobile phone on a piano but a computer (or better software) could be programmed to simulate a piano.
Is it possible to learn mathematics on a computer?
I ask you these questions because I hope you feel that they are related to different “fields” of learning.
You could learn “how to meditate” on a computer but practicing meditation is something else.
You could use the computer to create but painting and singing and making poetry needs something else.
They need an “internal tool” that has to develop itself. This internal tool could be called a talent and a talent is a “given thing”. We are (by definition) born with a talent. Goethe called the “internal” tools organs.
We are not only equipped with fysical organs but are also equipped with other non-fysical organs. They make it possible to see and to hear. Organs or talents are specialized structures or functions that are there when you are born. They have to be trained by invoking them.
They are invoked by giving them a challenge. Sometimes the challenges is a “cognitive” challenge (mathematics, patterns) but others need a “manual” challenge. They are “handy”.
When “handy” people are forced to do “cognitive” training they are not challenged and they fail.
The current System is not aimed at developing a talent. Some Systems are specialized in certain talents (Art, Top Sport) but some talents are not recognized. They are not recognized and even “killed” by the System.
I was born with a Mathematical Talent. Later I found out that this talent was inherited from my mothers family (Van Biezen). My talent was merely killed by the System.
It was killed because my talent is a specialization and a specialization implies also short-comings. One of my short-comings is my memory. I am able to remember (and recognize) patterns but I am not able to remember lists. I failed school because I was unable to learn the lists in foreign languages.
The strange thing is that I don’t have problems learning to speak a language. A language is not a list of words and learning a language is not about learning a list that maps words. If translating one language in the other was that easy the perfect translator would be on the market for a long time.
The fact that people are different creates a big problem when you want to create an educational factory. The factory is only able to do its job when the Input is “the same”.
If the input is divers you have to create a diversity of production-lines and you have to navigate the resources through these lines at the right moment.
When everybody is different the problem is unsolvable but when we are able to determinate a limited amount of differences current logistic approaches are capable of solving the problem.
The current logistic system in the Educational Factory is aimed at optimizing the activities of the Teacher (Class, Subject). He (or she) is the most important asset and the pupils have to follow the planning of the Logistic System.
If we would change the priority and put the learner in the centre and we would recognize that the development of a talent is the most beautifull thing a human being is able to do we have to change the logistics. Computers are beautifull tools to help to accomplish this.
The interesting point is that it is possible to determine a limited amount of “learning-styles” related to certain classes of talents. To my surprise nobody is using this knowledge. Just one learning style is used called Instruction (Telling “How-to-do-it”).