e-Learning consultant Karen Melhuish Spencer explains the key components to effective e-learning. It is important to identify students' strengths and needs in terms of the curriculum then design learning experiences using effective pedagogy. Select technology that will support or enhance this - rather than choosing the technology first.
So what is effective e-learning? The term “e-learning” appears in the New Zealand curriculum and it’s in the section that describes what effective pedagogy looks like. There’s also a clear definition for schools on the Enabling e-Learning website. But in a nutshell, e-learning is defined as learning that is supported or enhanced by the appropriate use of information and communication technologies, and that word appropriate is the key word there. e-Learning can cover a whole spectrum of activities from supporting learning through to combining online and offline practices, through to learning that is delivered entirely online. Whatever the technology, and it’s really hard for us to keep up so we need to kind of hold the most important idea in our minds is that the learning and the curriculum is the vital element here. e-Learning is not simply associated with modes of delivery or the functionality of a particular technology. e-Learning is part of a conscious choice to choose the best and most appropriate ways to promote effective learning.
Now best practice e-learning enables accessible, relevant, high quality learning opportunities that improve student engagement and achievement. That’s the goal that we are looking at here. e-Learning’s got the potential to transform the way teaching and learning takes place, not just in terms of pedagogy, but in the way that we experience the content in particular learning areas as well. It’s about using technologies effectively across the curriculum to connect schools and communities and to provide accessible and relevant opportunities. The goal is to help our students achieve to their fullest potential. Now increasingly, as access to technologies for individual students becomes a reality and as we see the roll out of ultra-fast broadband across New Zealand, the value proposition for us in terms of e-learning is that we can offer learning pathways that are increasing tailored to students needs and are far more inclusive than we might have been able to manage before.