Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"So far as I know, no one else has ever done this."

I can remember when I was in my 20s, writing my first grant proposal. I was writing to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Somehow I knew that it was important to be able to write in my proposal, “So far as I know, no one else has ever done this before.”
  1. Writing “so far as I know” was important, because I didn’t want anyone to be able to say my magical sentence was false. And, in fact, writing ‘so far as I know’ helped me justify not doing any search for existing practice. Because, if I looked hard enough, I might discover that my idea wasn’t unique.
  2. It was important to write, “No one else has ever done this before,” because that’s what funders value, I assumed: uniqueness, newness, innovation. If someone else is doing this, I shouldn’t be wasting my time with a proposal.
My proposal was turned down.

A year later, I’d crossed to the other side of the desk, to become a FIPSE program officer, and soon realized how silly my assumptions had been. In fact, my claim might even have been a reason that my proposal had been turned down.
  1. An idea that is truly unique is probably responding to a problem or opportunity that no one else has ever faced. Few foundations are interested in supporting such tiny problems or opportunities.
  2. Someone who is as isolated as I was (or, worse, as isolated as I was pretending to be), has no opportunity to learn from the achievements and mistakes of others.
  3. Someone that isolated is also unlikely to find it easy to disseminate the results of their work. Dissemination generally is part of what funders consider to be the payoff to their gifts or investments: wider impact and visibility for their work. That was certainly true for FIPSE.
So, the paragraph I came to look for as a funder was, "We're one of a number of pioneers in this area. Here' s what we've learned from the achievements and problems of others. Here's how we're connected with them. Here's what we want to do. And here's how those connections will help us share our experience with those pioneers, and with others who will want to adapt what we do with your money."

Can Online Activities HELP Colleges Deal with Racial Incidents?

What are some examples of using information technology in colleges and universities that help the academic community respond constructively to racial problems?
What are some examples of using information technology in colleges and universities that increase racial problems within the academic community?

"U-Md. has had two forums for students and others to talk about race since the noose was found, with about 50 to 70 people at each forum. A student group is asking people on campus to submit stories online about their experiences with discrimination."

"Either way, the incidents shock in part because many people expect colleges to be oases of tolerance and understanding. But school officials and scholars say it's natural that racial tensions sometimes flare on campuses because colleges reflect what's happening in the world around them; they're not isolated from economic and social rifts. And for many students, college is the first time they've met so many different types of people.

"Some students arrive with prejudices and stereotypes they don't even know they have, said William B. Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia.

""the power is in the silence that surrounds these symbols," said Sherrilyn Ifill, professor of law at the University of Maryland. "We don't talk openly about why a noose is such a provocative symbol because we don't talk much about our history of lynching.""

"Schools aren't doing well at this, said Harvey, who came to U-Va. from the American Council on Education. "I don't know of a single place that's doing as well as it could be, or should be, doing.""

"Still, several professors said college is the perfect place to challenge people to talk about difficult subjects and learn about the unfamiliar. Studies have shown that students are more tolerant after they graduate, Moore said."

Colleges See Flare In Racial Incidents -, by Susan Kinzie , p. B1, B2, 9/26/2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Downloading MP3s from Gabcast (3.5 min YouTube video)

Test of using YouTube to add a video to this blog 9/27/2007 12:46pm EDT

Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."

Role of Note-Taking

Response to previous postings "The best 'lecture' ever"

Excerpt from posting to POD listserv by Steve Gilbert Aug 29 2007.

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."
That's the new title that emerged yesterday during a conversation I was privileged to have with Paul A. Lacey in preparation for a free online Webcast next Friday (Sept 7) about pedagogy.
Click here for full digital recording of this event:

Paul often referred to his experiences as the first Director of a Lilly Endowment project to support young faculty members. He described the rapidly growing movement to oppose lecturing in college courses, the over-zealous advocates of eliminating all lectures who claimed that students could learn more efficiently from textbooks, etc., and, eventually, the evaporation of this issue. All in the 1970s.

Paul noted the disappearance of note-taking by students during lectures as one of many important changes since then. He described some of his work with a variety of faculty colleagues over many years to help them improve the effectiveness of their lecture-dominated courses. He often focused on helping the faculty members to shape the students' purposes and practices in note-taking.

I want to suggest that student note-taking may be viewed as a valuable lens for focusing more clearly on the intersection of new technology options, changing educational practices, and common misconceptions about "engagement" and "active learning."

First, do you agree that most students do not arrive in most lecture-based courses prepared to take notes effectively? Is that quite different from a few years or decades ago?

Second, technology as culprit. Many teachers and learners have been seduced by the capability of recording and publishing live events in various ways, as the relevant technology has become so easy to use, available, and inexpensive. They have leapt to the conclusion that a full audio recording or full video recording of the entire event is superior to and removes the need for note-taking by individual students.

Third, the practice of a faculty member or student or other authorized person serving as official note-taker for a course is also seen as superior to and removing the need for note-taking by individual students.

The Misconceptions
I learned rather painfully by trial and error over many years that if I do not take notes myself during a lecture, presentation, or meeting I do not focus as sharply on what is being said and I do not engage as actively as when I am constantly trying to rephrase, summarize, identify main points, and jot notes - including my own questions, ideas for further actions, etc. Even if I never review those notes again, the process of writing them (by hand or by computer) makes a big difference for me. I don't think this need of mine is especially unusual. I also don't believe that everyone needs to take notes in the same way that I do. Nor do I believe that taking notes oneself is incompatible with making use of notes, guidelines, or recordings prepared by others.

Many students CAN entirely avoid engaging with what is being "delivered" in a lecture, and that is the beginning of a legitimate complaint about lecture-based courses. However, if the students are helped to take notes in an effective way or to participate using other structured activities and devices (many already described in this series of email messages), lectures can be quite effective. Students can be "actively engaged" without having to speak aloud to anyone.

Many college and university faculty members still begin their teaching careers with the tacit beliefs that all their students have career goals, enthusiasm for the discipline, and study/learning habits similar to the teacher's own. Overcoming that predilection has always been an important step on the path to becoming a good teacher for undergraduates who are not destined for graduate school or majoring in the teacher's field. With the increasing numbers and variety of backgrounds of undergraduate students, this step becomes even more important. And so does a faculty member's acceptance of responsibility for guiding students' efforts to learn in a course.

If a teacher includes lectures, the teacher may need to offer some suggestions about how and why to take notes. If the teacher decides to make some kinds of recordings or approved notes available that practice should be explained carefully. Students should be encouraged to use the other resources effectively in conjunction with their own note-taking. And, of course, students may need to know about the increasing variety of effective ways to take notes so that each students can determine which kinds of note-taking are most useful for that individual student in which kinds of courses. [Some examples of useful note-taking methods: outlining, concept mapping, drawings, verbatim phrases, indications of priority, follow-up goals, … etc.]

I'm looking forward to learning more from Paul Lacey next Friday and hope that some of you will join us. Oh, I personally prefer to include some kinds of visible interaction with students/audience/participants at least once every 10 or 15 minutes even in a "lecture" - whether that happens to be with a group of hundreds of people in a single room or in an online session.

Steve Gilbert
President, The TLT Group


Paul A. Lacey,
Emeritus Prof. of English, Earlham College
Clerk [Board Chair], American Friends Service Committee

"Boundaries in Academia: Personal, Professional, Political, Spiritual?"

"Terror and Other Threats to Humanity"

Fifth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Rome, November 2004

Is the lecture dying? Should it?

"There are some students that are upset that I do not lecture. Some students say, "I'm not paying Harvard $45,000 a year to learn it all myself." At the end of each semester, students fill out a questionnaire, and a few students will write: "Professor Mazur is not teaching us anything. I have to learn it all myself.""

"Once, all professors spent entire classes talking nearly nonstop while students furiously scribbled notes. Today, a growing number of professors are abandoning that tradition, saying there are better ways to keep students focused and learning."

"time-honored college lecture course, which is undergoing significant change at some universities because of technological innovations and the desire to hold the attentions of the highly structured 21st-century student.

""If the old traditional lecture is dying, it is because we are relying so much on the template of technology to make up for the lack of content," said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University. "PowerPoint has done more to kill the lecture than people really are aware of.""

" clicker, ... allows professors to determine almost instantly what percentage of students have the right answer." [implies that there always is a "right answer" in a class?]

""Physics is about data. Our first intuition is not quite right. We have to modify our intuition."" - Quote from Edward Redish

"Of course, there are still some professors who can galvanize a class by using dramatic storytelling, internal structure, movement and a strong voice." [and what about thoughtful insights? impressive breadth of knowledge? caring about students? deep commitment to the topic?...]

"The problem, some educators say, is that few teachers can bring a lecture to life.

""Far too many lecturers tend to read aloud material students could readily read on their own," " Coleen Grisson

"poll of college courses would find that many professors still rely on traditional lecturing as a primary mode of instruction.

"Professors often spend their adult lives researching a particular topic and feel they have a unique synthesis and understanding of the research. ... And although the process of putting together the lectures is a creative, intense experience for professors, it doesn't always translate to students who have to sit and listen,..." Julie Reuben

SIDEBAR (Q&A with Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur, author of "Peer Instruction" )
"...We should teach everybody to develop problem-solving skills. Lecturing is an inefficient way of doing it.

"You said that some teachers spoon-feed their students but you force them to learn the material on their own. How do your students like it?

"There are some students that are upset that I do not lecture. Some students say, "I'm not paying Harvard $45,000 a year to learn it all myself." At the end of each semester, students fill out a questionnaire, and a few students will write: "Professor Mazur is not teaching us anything. I have to learn it all myself.""

Breathing Life Into the Lecture Hall -, by Valerie Strauss
pp. B1, B2, Sept 24, 2007

Facebook culture? YouTube ethos? Cell phone cameras? Citizen journalism?

TLT Group FridayLive will extend our "friend or foe" examinations of academic uses of Instant Messaging, Cell Phones, Handheld devices to Facebook - Oct 5, 2007. We'll continue to exchange ideas about beneficial and harmful uses, timely references, and tough questions. We look for constructive answers to this question: "Can't we do something more academically useful about [insert controversial tech apps here] than try to forbid and prevent their use in our classrooms and courses?"

Consider these excerpts:

"...citizen journalism is firmly entrenched, thanks to the spread of digital and cellphone cameras and the rise of an interactive culture."

"Some stories might not exist without cellphone cameras, ...

"...citizen newsgathering is changing

"... an extension of the Facebook culture, ... and the YouTube ethos, ... sends a signal that anyone ... can be a journalist.

Howard Kurtz - Got a Camera? You, Too, Can Be A Network Reporter -
pp. c1, c7, Sept 24, 2007

Click here to register in advance (free but required) for FridayLive sessions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Four pieces of advice on writing persuasive grant proposals

I spent 19 years reviewing grant proposals for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and Annenberg/CPB at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here are four pieces of advice about writing proposals to grant competitions (internal or external) where the goal is to improve learning and where the competition is intense.

First and most important, grant proposal is an exercise in teaching at a distance. The desired learning outcome of your distance teaching is for two reviewers to meet, a day or two after they’ve each read the proposal, perhaps shortly before their review panel meets to discuss your proposal.

One panelist says to the other, “I don’t remember this proposal. What’s it about?” Panelist #2 replies, “Oh this is a good one. It’s about X and here’s why I think we should support it.” Panelist #2’s comments are no more than 60 seconds long, typically.

So what should panelist #2 remember to say about your proposal, a day or two after reading a stack of proposals of which yours was just one? That’s your challenge: teach these reviewers a few memorable things about your proposal, things that are important enough to excite the reader. If the reviewer thinks to herself, "I could borrow a couple of those ideas!" so much the better. Don't hide the good stuff.

Second, avoid passive verbs. Don’t be shy about saying “I” or “we.” It helps you use your own experience to a) explain why this is important, b) help educate the reader about whether and how much to trust your skill and insight (because you’re exposing more of your self and your experience.) Proposal reviewing is a confidence game.

Third avoid the current jargon, especially if the grant competition has an explicit goal– if everyone uses the same jargon, all the proposals sound alike.

Put those three things together, and you have the beginnings of a proposal that can persuade reviewers that you’ll be good at educating the world about what you’ve achieved with their money.

That's the fourth, and final, point. Whether far-reaching impact is an explicit goal or not, funders generally like it when other people can learn from the experience they’re paying you to gain. If you’re good at explaining (across disciplines and institutions) what you’ve learned, and being credible in the process, you’re a more valuable person/institution to fund.

Good luck, and please let us know if we can help with your proposal: evaluation planning? help you disseminate to other institutions? help plan faculty development? If you'd like to chat about grants, especially those having to do with improving teaching and learning with technology, please e-mail us at

PS Here's a chapter from the Flashlight Evaluation Handbook on how (not) to evaluate grant-funded technology projects.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Using Flashlight Online as a Tool for Shared Governance and Community Engagement

“Flashlight Online is one of the four or five most important collaborative technologies we use at the College,” Sandy Shugart told me. He’s President of Valencia Community College, one of the biggest users of our web-based survey system. President Shugart went on to say that Valencia’s Faculty Council frequently solicits feedback and opinions from all faculty (and he stressed the importance of including adjuncts) on policy questions. Flashlight Online, he told me, was a key way of keeping all faculty involved in shared governance.

You can understand why this was great for us to hear. Most of the ways The TLT Group serves subscribers involve helping people collaborate with one another: in improving faculty support, assessment, planning, learning space design, meditating ‘dangerous discussions,’ etc.. Flashlight Online is a web-based system shared by about a hundred subscribing institutions. It’s easy for authors from different institutions to see one another’s surveys, use one another’s items, co-author surveys, analyze data together. (Of course, authors can also keep a survey and data private, if they choose.) Previously we’d thought of Flashlight supporting collaboration by helping survey authors work together. So President Shugart’s observation was a delightful new way to see Flashlight Online.

At that moment, I realized I’d already seen another, quite different example at Valencia of using Flashlight Online to promote democracy, shared governance and collaboration. As we’ve already described in our blog, Prof. Pat Nellis has developed a Flashlight Online survey for students to vote on class rules. Pat uses public debate and secret ballots to help assure that, if there’s a rule, students follow it. This kind of practice teaches students about the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in ways that go beyond what high school civics can teach. (Click here to see a Nellis survey.)

At other institutions, Flashlight Online has already been used in a faculty union election and other forms of voting.

We can imagine using Flashlight Online as a tool to engage a whole institution's worth of students (including commuting students and 'distant learners') in governance. On what questions of policy and practice would be useful to uncover student preferences, opinions, and activities? On questions where the institution could use student input, work with student government and make it a regular practice to
a) ask students, then
b) report back to students about how their input has reshaped policy, services, etc.
Over time, I predict you'll see an increase in response rates to your surveys, student involvement, student identification with the university, and perhaps even, over the long haul, alumni giving. Over time, I predict you'll see an increase in response rates to your surveys, student involvement, student identification with the university, and perhaps even, over the long haul, alumni giving. (I admit I'm an optimist, but I believe that if you ask people questions whose answers are important to them, they'll invest a bit of themselves in responding.)

Is anyone at your institution using Flashlight Online or some other survey tool to support collaboration, shared governance, or voting? Want to know more about any of the cases mentioned above? Please let us know by posing a comment on this blog or emailing me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Accessibility Guidelines for eClips & Brief Hybrid Workshops

Are these simple accessibility guidelines for Brief Hybrid Workshops clear, adequate, reasonable, useful? Too simple? Pls respond via Email or (preferably) comment to this post, below.

My emerging conviction is that our work with 5-Minute eClips and Brief Hybrid Workshops
(for definitions, see below) can be served best by embedding each one in a Web page that includes at least these options or versions for users:

1. Includes enough text that is manageable by screen readers for those who have vision needs or prefer to use screen readers to get enough of the information.

2. Includes enough visible text so that those with hearing needs or preferences can get enough information.

3. Accessible to people who use computers (Macs or PCs) configured in the ways most common during the most recent 3 years.

4. Accessible to people who have Internet connections of most commonly available speeds.

5. Not yet? Accessible to people who use handheld devices (smart cell phones) configured in the ways most common during the most recent 18 months?

The good news is that we now have tools that make all of the above possible more easily, quickly, and inexpensively than ever before - even for those who do not have the resources of major institutions available to them.

If you have suggestions for improving them or other comments, send via Email or, preferably, add a comment at the end of this blog posting (you can do so anonymously or, preferably, with an indication of your name and contact info so that others can respond to your contribution).

For more comprehensive information about Web accessibility, see:

Definitions (from

A "brief hybrid workshop" (BTW)
is an activity of less than 15 minutes (preferably closer to 5!) for participants that includes the use of one or more Internet-accessible media clips AND some other files, instructions, activities, documents, plans, guidelines, etc. It is intended to help a group of people produce or learn how to do something useful to them. Participants usually interact with each other and with a leader/presenter/facilitator during the activity. (When run without interruption, all the pre-recorded media elements - the eClips - require less than 5 minutes total. Of course, some groups may find the materials so fascinating that they extend the entire sessions well beyond 15 minutes!)

A "brief hybrid teaching/learning module" (BHTLM)
is the same as a "brief hybrid workshop" EXCEPT for purpose and audience. These modules are intended to help students to learn something in a course (usually undergraduate).

Low-Threshold Approach
The TLT Group is committed to finding, developing, sharing, and publishing Brief Hybrid Workshops that reflect our longstanding work with LTAs - applications and activities that are reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-intimidating and (incrementally) inexpensive. And we are committed to advocating and demonstrating how to use low-threshold Brief Hybrid Workshops to help others design, produce, use, and improve BTWs.

Steve Gilbert

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Finding an Important Topic to Study

I'm working on workshop materials for our "Asking the Right Questions" (ARQ) program - locally facilitated, brief workshops to help academic staff at our subscribing institutions learn how to collect focused feedback from their students in order to improve teaching and learning with technology in their courses. When I say "brief," I mean that each module is only 5-20 minutes long: short enough to be an agenda item in a faculty meeting, a brownbag lunch activity, or a short online event. the workshop materials are designed so that local staff or peer mentors will have an easy time running them. We'll also offer our subscribers free online workshops to train their facilitators: staff in information technology units, faculty development units, teaching&learning centers, libraries and, of course, faculty members who would lead a peer group through a few of these workshops.

This blog entry is a draft for a workshop to help academic staff take a second step in focusing their inquiries. This workshop builds on the work participants would have done in ARQ Workshop #1.

The goal of this workshop is to learn more about identifying research questions that are most worth the effort to answer. (It takes just as much work to answer a trivial question as to answer an important one.)

In ARQ Workshop #1, participants identified a technology used persistently in their courses, a technology that seemed valuable yet in some way problematic. Then they identified an activity -- a pattern of action that was enabled or supported by that technology - that was also of obvious importance and yet somehow problematic.

What additional characteristics make an activity important to study? After we list a few criteria, we ask participants to identify an activity worth studying in their own courses. And, if they like, they can modify or add to this list of criteria. (If you have such improvements, please e-mail me! We'll improve these materials and acknowledge your contribution.)
  • Focus on an activity that 's pervasive, important, and capable of being significantly improved through adroit use of technology. For example, it's important for faculty to understand what students are thinking, in order to adjust teaching on the fly and improve learning. Personal response systems (a.k.a. 'clickers', 'classroom voting systems,' 'online surveys') are spreading, and can help instructors get a more precise sense of what all their students are thinking.
  • Focus on an activity that can be improved incrementally so that, as you learn more, you can keep improving the activity and its outcomes. That improvement usually comes from learning more and more about how to exploit the activity. For example, over time faculty might learn how to ask more powerful questions using a personal response systems, and how to use the PRS to facilitate Peer Instruction.
  • Focus on an activity that is defined enough that you can actually study and improve it without making that research into a career. "Studying how to moderate online discussions" is a broader and more challenging topic than "studying how to get students to pay attention to one another's comments before they post a new comment online."
  • Focus on an activity that is also important to other courses that these students take. Your study about how to improve that activity are more likely to be of interest to your colleagues: they could use your methods to improve their own teaching, for example. And, these kinds of incremental improvements in an activity become more accepted and effective when the change occurs 'across the curriculum.' Students learn to expect the changed activity and, as they engage in its repeatedly, they become more skilled. So faculty who teach them later on can try more ambitious improvements.
Your task: identify at least one such activity, one that's very important for you to illuminate by gathering student feedback.

HINT: List lots of such technology-supported activities - ten or more. Imagine asking your students questions that address your concerns as well as your hopes. Which potential study scares and excites you the most? Is there a potential inquiry that makes you think, "Now that I've thought about this, I can't not learn more about what's really going on here!" (For more on this hint, see this short essay in the Flashlight Evaluation Handbook.)

PS The outcomes of that activity, the activity itself, and the technology are what we call a "triad." 'Triads' are a simple grammar for conceptualizing some important things that go on in a course: technology, activities, and outcomes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

IM pros & cons

For more ideas, comments, resources (pros and cons) about academic uses of Instant Messaging, see our FridayLive! Google Planning Doc for September 14, 2007.

"I would say that at least half the IMs I get I'm always thinking, 'Why did you use IM for this?'" he says. "To me, it's kind of like opening someone's door and barging in and asking them a question." ...
"Just because instant messages vanish from a computer screen doesn't mean they aren't being saved somewhere. "

Above 2 excerpts are from "Instant Hit: IM Spreads in the Workplace, but Choose Your Words Carefully," Jan 2005, The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition; Found online as of 9/13/2007 at:

Info Lit Pre-College - via local newspaper?

How can colleges and universities use or influence information literacy efforts in K-12 schools and public media?

How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs build on what is being accomplished (attempted?) in pre-college information literacy activities? How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs influence pre-college information literacy activities?

How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs build on what is being accomplished (attempted?) in public media - e.g., Washington Post newspaper? How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs influence public media (e.g., Washington Post newspaper) information literacy activities?

Following is full text of brief inset excerpt from today's Wash. Post article How Can I Find Reliable Information on the Internet? - (p. c14 9/13/2007):

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just Where are Institutions Going with eLearning - Note from ALT-C

I'm at ALT-C 2007 in Nottingham, England. The panel is discussing strategies for making eLearning (i.e., use of computer/Internet related technologies in ways that help improve and even transform learning) an important part of the fabric of higher education.

I make several working assumptions about any such strategy:
  • An effective strategy needs to reach, influence and support "early majority" and "late majority" adapters, not just innovators and early adopters.
  • Any strategy needs to be based largely on incremental, evolutionary patterns of change (with little or no funding for each little step in each course). Strategies that are based mainly on external funds going to good proposal writers are unlikely to create across the board change in a department or across an institution.
  • One limiting factor on any strategy such as this is the degree to which the academic staff, department, and institution see tangible, continuing rewards coming from this approach to teaching and learning. Those rewards need to provide the 'investment' to keep the change progressing. If the change isn't viral (capable of spreading from one instructor to others without any external support), then the rewards also need to be sufficient to justify support staff, materials, etc.
If those assumptions are sound, solving this problem, as framed, seems unlikely (other than viral uses of eLearning, which are likely to focus on time-saving if they're to appeal to the early and late majority).

Perhaps the answer is to change the question.

For example, instead of 'eLearning," pick a (subject-specific) challenge that is so compelling that a program meeting the goal would be substantially rewarded by the environment (increased enrollment and prestige, for example) while failure to keep up would be implicitly penalized. Pick a challenge for which eLearning is crucial.

Not all challenges meet that criterion, to say the least! How about improving the ability of graduating engineers to apply scientific concepts to design problems? educating students who can apply skills of digital writing to the challenges of their profession? The biggest win would be to identify such a challenge which also could be met by incremental, time-saving changes by the academic staff. That's the kind of challenge that could leverage quite a lot of change.

To repeat, the kind of challenge I'm talking about must be one which, if met, would produce significant, continuing rewards for the department (and institution), rewards not totally dependent on some temporary government funding program. The individual instructor needs to be rewarded too, either directly (e.g., by publications or time-saving) or by transfer of some of the rewards that initially come to the program.

Such a challenge might be identified by a particular academic program or institution on its own. Meanwhile, I hope, people in national funding programs might give some thought to dealing with national challenges, using eLearning as a means to some specific ends.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

eLearning as a confusor

A speaker at ALT-C, the conference I'm attending in Nottingham, England, mentioned the omni-present term, "eLearning." It's a confusor, and I've just added it to our list of confusors ( [If people don't realize they're using the same word or phrase to mean different things, the result can be an unnecessary argument. My term for such linguistic traps is "confusors." For example, two people might argue about whether lecturing is a good way to teach, but if they don't start by agreeing what 'lecturing' is...]

eLearning is a confusor. "eLearning" can be used to mean any use of technology to support learning. Or distance learning. Or distance learning or hybrid learning. (and "hybrid learning" is another confusor).

In short, I need to remember to define terms like "learning" "technology" and "eLearning" each time I use them in conversation or a talk. With so many confusors, that's a tough order. But I don't see any shortcuts.