the e-learning industry today has a problem. Specifically, Most e-learning replicates the worst practices of education electronically
and very much in line with my complaint of the limited "choice space":
Even when the courses are not mere page-turners, “interactive” is defined as choice points in the software, with pre-defined answers provided for pre-defined choices. “Evaluation” most often consists of is simple recall/recognition quizzes - the lowest skills in the learning hierarchy
He continues to elaborate on a "Five-Step Model for High Impact Learning":
1 Content[underline are mine]
2 Q&A: Adult learners need to map conceptual content to their own frameworks and understand how it works in their situations.
3 Practice: Many skills are best learned when they can be practiced a safe training environment. If a skill involves critical thinking or written documentation, it can be effectively practiced in small groups within discussion forums that are optimized for learning, and coaching can be provided in this same manner. ...
4 Apprenticing: Many skills benefit from ongoing coaching over time, ...
5 Teaching: All of these techniques and technologies lend themselves to graduates serving as coaches and mentors of successive cohorts of learners, to hone their own skills and prepare for career advancement where coaching others is a critical skill, ...
I have underlined a few points which I would like to elaborate on.
I have noted here1 and elsewhere that the concept of a cohort of learners have been missing in learning technology community. Without the ability to identify a group of learners who have similar needs and willing to learn at approximately the same pace, there is little opportunity of collaborative learning. Ad hoc formation of learning group is fine, but for the complete duration of a task, the group has to work together in an agreed time frame.
Another point I noted in Bill's article is the returning to human mentor and/or teacher. This is a good point, but not very scalable for large scale implementation. While running parallel small groups is prefectly scalable both technically and pedagogically, engaging a large number of mentors, or a single human mentor to look after a large number of groups is not scalable.
In our role play simulation, while we acknowledge the need of moderator, however, the main "mentoring" does not fall squarely on the moderator's shoulder. Moderator should act and intervene at slightly as possible. The learning process is activated via team playing a single role. As a team playing a role, the team needs to maintain a consistent role personality, tones, tactics and strategy. Such a requirement will force the team member to articulate their ideas among the team member critically. Team members will also review each proposed eaction critically in order to achieve the best outcome for the role.
By removing this additional mentor, our design is more scalable than what is proposed by Bill.
1My other papers on SCORM implementation can be found at http://koala.dls.au.com/scorm