A great story from James Robertson about how a bunch of airline pilots cheat their way through compulsory home-based elearning – giving their children candy to complete the page turning, downloading automatic pageturning software, and resetting the connection during the quiz so they have a chance to skip to the relevant answer.
Elearning pageturners deserve all the cheating they can get. This model of technology-assisted “self” directed learning is at least half a century old.
So it’s a nice coincidence that my mailbox today yielded up the spanking new book from Saul Carliner and Patti Shank, The E-learning Handbook. I’m biased, of course, because I have a chapter on measuring the impact of elearning inside, but that apart I like the way the whole front end of the book comes clean about the overweening hype surrounding the elearning boom of a decade ago, and takes a more critical, measured view – read especially the chapters by Margaret Driscoll, Brent Wilson and Lee Christopher.
There are cognitive functions where machines are better than humans – in calculation, memory and rule-following for example. But human wit far exceeds the machine’s capacity in those large domains of human activity where we shift the rules and simply play. Within its limits, and with intelligent design (the plain English kind, not the creationist kind), elearning can be useful and engaging. But it’s never going to replace the rest of the learning intervention family.
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