Nichols, M. (2003)’A theory for elearning’, Educational Technology & Society, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1-10; also available online at http://ifets.ieee.org/discussion/discuss_march2003.html (last accessed on 20 February 2016)
10 elearning hypotheses
H1: eLearning is a means of implementing education that can be applied within varying education models (for example, face to face or distance education) and educational philosophies (for example behaviourism and constructivism).
I agree as it supports or enhances learning within a constructivist/social constructivism approach.
H2: eLearning enables unique forms of education that fits within the existing paradigms of face to face and distance education.
I agree as it is enabling and provides a holistic more rounded approach. The creation of blended learning is evolving and moving within the education field.
H3: The choice of eLearning tools should reflect rather than determine the pedagogy of a course; how technology is used is more important than which technology is used.
I agree because I believe that how technology is used is more important than which technology is used. It is important to choose the relevant technology tools to meet the needs of the particular elearning and education/philosophical approach.
H4: eLearning advances primarily through the successful implementation of pedagogical innovation.
Mostly agree. I agree that innovative breakthroughs in teaching practice will be more useful than breakthroughs in technology and that advances/breakthroughs in technology can lead to innovative teaching practice. It could just take one small piece of technology such as including a digital microscope within teaching practice which creates an innovative learning opportunity which then takes learners in a new direction.
How many times have we said, ‘I wish the person who designed this would have spoken to the people who actually use it.’ Educators at all levels should be consulted in new design approaches if we are to drive elearning forward to meet the needs of our learners. I agree with Ravenscroft (2001:134) that we need to examine the role of elearning and its full potential. We need designers to have a better understanding of the dynamics of teaching and learning and not from improved or functional technology.
Reeves (2002) argues that technology is not being used innovatively in education mainly because it sits comfortably within current approaches to education. I would argue that there are innovative teachers who are being creative with technology however they are probably in pockets rather than everywhere. More work is needed to develop the capacity of our practitioners to increase their confidence and skills base with technology and this will hopefully allow for the breakthroughs in their teaching practice rather than being dependent upon existing approaches for fear of failure as suggested in hypotheses 3. I would also add here that many practitioners have in the past given up with developing their practice to include the use of technologies because although they might have had up-to-date resources these resources didn’t work efficiently or effectively due to constraints imposed by bandwidths and firewalls.
Innovative educators will be those who maximise the potential of elearning within their pedagogy and work with designers to ensure further development continues to meet the needs of those who will be utilising its tools within this rapidly technologically advancing world in which we live in. This could be through demand-pull learning shifting the focus to enabling participation through ‘learning to be’ and collaborative learning.
H5: eLearning can be used in two major ways; the presentation of education content, and the facilitation of education processes.
Applications within elearning provide digital resources which are available for use by multiple users at the same time and this assists with students’ self-construction of knowledge.
H6: eLearning tools are best made to operate within a carefully selected and optimally integrated course design model.
I would take Oliver (1999) and mix with Nichols (2001) and create a eLearning tool that incorporates content, learner supports and a variety of learning resources which include technologically designed collaborative dialogue, communication and reflection systems and work with instructors, and I would add with other learners who all contribute towards successful learning.
Referring back to H4 the elearning tools need to be developed alongside the educators.
H7: eLearning tools and techniques should be used only after consideration has been given to online vs offline trade-offs.
This hypotheses is surpassed with time. eLearning tools now include full course work materials which have an option to copy if and when needed by the user – environmentally friendly. There is however still the issue with bandwidth in numerous areas across the country.
H8: Effective eLearning practice considers the ways in which end-users will engage with the learning opportunities provided to them.
As with H7 I feel that H8 has surpassed with time. Elearning is now more flexible and offers various dates for on-line collaborative meetings which can be recorded and help evaluate activities and inform improvement to future elearning courses.
H9: The overall aim of education, that is, the development of the learner in the context of a predetermined curriculum or set of learning objectives, does not change when eLearning is applied.
I would disagree with this hypotheses and its probably because of the advances in technology and its inclusion in the curriculum that have occurred since 2003 when this article was published. In school we measure success against the learning intention and agreed success criteria which the children have ownership of. This may include the use of a technology resource as a tool to assist learning or as a tool for learning through.
H10: Only pedagogical advantages will provide a lasting rationale for implementing eLearning approaches.
We have technological advantages in school through use of Chromebooks and iPads, however this does not mean better learning unless they are used to meet the educational needs of the learning intentions planned for within our curriculum based on sound pedagogy practices. With the world and technology evolving at an increasing pace eLearning approaches and tools will need to evolve to meet the needs of the stakeholders. Educators including those who inform educational practice within our local and national government will need to ensure that pedagogical practices move with the times to keep up with the pace of technological development.
Reflection: Elearning has evolved with advances in technology including the use of the Web. It will continue to evolve and we need to consider the needs of our learners not only through our educational system’s curriculum and our teaching and learning practice but also to ensure that they have the skills needed to use the advances in technological tools which are now used globally.