Thursday, July 19, 2007

Standards for Distance Learning

Wednesday at the IMS Global Consortium Meetings, I attended a workshop on Standards for Distance Learning. This is an attempt to develop the definitive list of best practices for e-Learning programs.

Starting with definitions. What are we talking about? Are they standards or best practices or something else? Is this targeted at higher ed, K-12, corporate learning, all, or what? Is "distance learning " the correct term? Probably not, but what is?

Scope?

  • Level of education
  • Course or program?
  • Distance?
  • Type of technologies
  • What else?
  • What do we call it?

Michael Feldstein asks what the outcome will be. Who will use this information and why? Why the IMS guidelines rather than Sloan-C or others? Possibly because the IMS is a more international organization and not just focused on U.S. higher ed which is not true of several of the other organizations working on similar issues. He wants to make things "less odious," which came up many times throughout the day.

Ellen (Denver) and I are apparently kindred spirits. She articulated my thoughts very well. We don't need to duplicate the work already done in this arena, but most of that work is too specific on current practices and not capturing the changing nature of technology-enhanced learning opportunities. We looked at several other definitions where I saw several terms that I consider unacceptable: distance learning, computer-based, Internet delivered, separation of student and teacher, best practices, etc.

Is it technology-mediated or technology-complicated? (Michael)

We spent some time talking about the term "flexible learning." I think there is something valuable in there, but have been cautioned to not go whole hog on this idea lest students might think that this learning is totally flexible - do anything you want anytime you want (uhh, no thanks!).

Flexible learning: Is it widely enough used to be understandable to most people but not so widely used to have everyone arguing about what it means. (Michael again)

Technology-enabled flexible learning (is that too much?)

For me, the best part of the day was the chance to meet and get to know Michael. He is one of my favorite bloggers on my bloglines list. Extremely sharp dude.

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