After a week of research and seminars, I’m compelled to re-examine my takes on e-learning in the Philippine setting. Here’s a post on e-learning as an investment from two years back and here’s on ICT learning in general.
Technology has changed so much over the past three years that I’m out of the industry that the problem with today’s educator is choice rather than the availability of tools and resources. With Web 2.0 technologies reaching a fairly impressive level of sophistication for effective use in education, it’s really quite exciting for educators. But that’s just among the many issues that stakeholders in our context face.
Among these, still is the issue of infrastructure. Schools are still inequipped with proper computer laboratories and enough computers to cover the needs of a school population. There’s also the issue of hardware and software investments. The sheer pace of development in both fronts means that a computer laboratory faces obsolescence in even less than two years.
Broadband, while inceasingly becoming available and popular due to Wi-Fi and 3G are still questioned as worthwhile investments by some school administrators. Some schools even deliberately shy away from Internet connectivity to prevent students from accessing adult and gaming websites – a crude carpet bomb approach to an issue easily resolved by a single bullet that is proper network administration.
Teachers do have to cope. Rare is a teacher who will admit that they get left behind by some of their more tech-savvy stydents. Even rarer is ateacher who is humble enough to admit that they can easily be replaced by a computer or a website. Perhaps even a few years ago, teachers can simply get by with their encyclopedic knowledge. Not today. How can you even compete with Google, Wikipedia and even Wolfram Alpha with the amount of information that they make available.
For older teachers, it’s a matter of dealing with the learning curve and technophobia. Interfaces have become overly intuitive these days but if the issue is not being able to differentiate a single-click to a double-click, there definitely are greater issues underpinned in such cases. And these cases exist. Generally, it’s a matter of motivation and competence for the teacher. How far are we willing to go to maintain at least a step ahead of our students. Or do we even need to?
As for students, it’s still a question of work ethic and scholarship skills. The resources are there. However, it’s just too easy for them to be drawn to the less serious side of things – MMORPGs and Facebook (and its many insipid apps). Copying and pasting assigments and terms papers are common place.
For e-learning to become viable, it has to overcome these challenges. While it’s easy to think it’s a financial hurdle, it’s actually a battle of ideology.
Such discourse is commonplace for us young turks. As part of the Internet generation, it is frustrating not being able to use all of these technologies inside our classroom. If you teach in a university where you can’t even use PowerPoint in a daily basis due to the basic lack of projectors, the situation is more than pathetic.
The oldies would simply say that such limitations offer the challenge to be creative. I still admire and emulate those who can make students understand complex discourses though sheer eloquence.
There are times when I stop and wonder if technology messes with pure thought. That our creativities are hampered by the draw of interfaces and the logic of ones and zeros.
I really feel like an old man talking. Or perhaps because I am still technically in the business of education. Cliche as it is but if I had these resources back in basic education or even as an undergraduate, I would’ve been a much better student. However, I know that I am an exception. Not too many people rush to finish papers on the day they were assigned.