The two roles of e-learning professors

The two roles of e-learning professors

Last week I got a meeting with people of Intermón Oxfam about the possibilities of setting up an intranet and an e-training programme within.

I like these meetings because they make me think and improve my skills in abstraction, conceptualization, etc. Then the output is sometimes pleasant sometimes not: these meetings make clear what I know and what I don’t.

Talking about the roles played by the professors in an e-learning environment I made the point in distinguishing content from communication or, in better words, authorship from lecturing.

One of these typical errors related to translating presencial learning to distance (on-line) learning deals with not being able to see you can (you should?) treat authors and teachers as different roles, and not as the same person, as in presencial courses happens.

The author must:

  • Master contents, he or she has to be (if possible) the best in his field
  • Focus on content, meaning that he has to consider mainly an output, a contents support, a learning object
  • Not think of his availability during the course: he might not even take part in it!

The teacher (virtual tutor, class tutor, etc.) must:

  • Master communication, he’s the responsible of the course tempo and the students participation
  • Master the environment where everything will take place, know the rules of the game, what will work better and what worse, etc.
  • Know the content, but not necessarily master it
  • Be available during the course

Of course this can be done by the same person, but also by different people, even more than two: different authors, the best on each subject; and different teachers for different virtual classrooms.

I think this is of special interest in the field of NGOs and non-profits: availability of people is quite an issue and content is found in the minds of some people (experts) that have worked in some projects, places, etc.

E-learning brings them the possibility to

  • make their experts work as authors and, if everything is well documented and filed, authorship becomes quite easy
  • make their (on-line) volunteers (e-volunteers in e-volunteering for e-training programmes) be the teachers, staying home, with maximum availability at the minimum effort

There are, of course, plenty more roles in e-teaching, but I guess this categorization is a good starting point.


ICTlogy goes pagerank 5: did I miss something!?

Since last Google pagerank update this page has reached pagerank 5, which has quite amazed me:

  • I don’t have lots of visits – actually, I have few visits
  • I don’t think I’m being linked by more than a couple of friends and a bunch of web spiders

So, how did I get to pagerank 5!?

The only reasons I find are:

  • There’s not really many people around blogging on ICT4D such as e-learning, e-volunteering, intranets and knowledge management, an so.
  • I try and not write about plenty of things but just the previous subjects – there’s some exceptions, as this post ;)
  • I’ve been (luckily) spotted at the Development Gateway, a site with a quite high pagerank (8)

Now that I’m using PowerPhlogger to manage my site visits/logs I see funny things such as being listed #2 in Google searching the string “kinds of freedom”, which should be coped by GNU/Linux pages.

I like to see people bumping into my page searching for “opensource ware” or “opensource lms” but it’s more surprising to find me through “mit opencourse”. The most surprising yet came last Wednesday: somebody got here through “opencourseware berklee”: fun, Berklee itself did not appear in none of the 40 results listed by Google.

So, what’s going on out there with Google? :O


Weblog strategies for nonprofits

Via WorldChanging, i get to read Christian Crumlish on Weblog strategies for nonprofits.

Nice article. I completely agree with most of the statements there said. And this I found it especially true:
“I realized that unless someone kickstarts this [the use of blogging within nonprofits] and demonstrates the power of a nonhierarchical cellular communications network for publishing, syndication, sharing, commenting, there’s no way to demonstrate the network effects.”

Same happens with intranets. I know not all NGOs can find intranets of interest, as a critical organization size (and work configuration) must be reached in order to benefit from no-time no-space barriers, but some things could be improved by using them.

All in all, I don’t find so much difference between blogs and intranets. Main issue is privacy (intranets) and easier knowledge management (thanks to the larger features of the intranet), but rest is about the same.

BTW, though Crumlish’s article is two months old, Compumentor still have their job offer published on their web ;)


WSIS Draft Declaration of Principles and Draft Plan of Action

The WSIS Draft Declaration of Principles and Draft Plan of Action were uploaded yesterday.

My highlitghts (comments following):

“We are aware that ICTs should be regarded as tools and not as an end in themselves. Under favourable conditions, these technologies can be a powerful instrument, increasing productivity, generating economic growth, job creation and employability and improving the quality of life of all.”
[Declaration of Principles, point 9]

“These targets may be taken into account in the establishment of the national targets, considering the different national circumstances:
a) to connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points;
b) to connect universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs;
c) to connect scientific and research centres with ICTs;
d) to connect public libraries, cultural centres, museums, post offices and archives with ICTs;
e) to connect health centres and hospitals with ICTs;
f) to connect all local and central government departments and establish websites and email addresses;
g) to adapt all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society, taking into account national circumstances;
h) to ensure that all of the world’s population have access to television and radio services;
i) to encourage the development of content and to put in place technical conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the Internet;
j) to ensure that more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach”
[Plan of Action, point 6]

“E-learning (see section C4)”
[Plan of Action, point 14 – see next highlight]

“Develop distance learning, training and other forms of education and training as part of capacity building programmes. ”
[Plan of Action, point 11-l]

“Activate volunteer programmes to provide capacity building on ICT for development, particularly in developing countries. ”
[Plan of Action, point 11-o]

Seeing this, I think that:

  • There’s still too much weight in infrastructures and capacity building and not in content and services.
  • ICT development is not needs (demand) driven but supply-side driven.
  • e-Learning is not a subject itself (such as e-government or e-health) but just a part of capacity building.
  • e-volunteers don’t (barely) exist as a concept and they deserve little attention while civil society it is said to have a main role in the whole thing

Well, this is just the opposite of my way of thinking.

  • Content and services should focus the whole attention and infrastructures and capacity building be adapted to them
  • ICT development should be (local) needs driven
  • e-Learning is not (only) capacity building but a very powerful means to profit from ICT applications in daily life and bring education (not only training) where before impossible
  • Civil society is mainly all about volunteers and teleworking/e-volunteering is the easiest way to reach each other.

If everyone’s thinking the other way, I wonder where and when did I take the wrong path… :(


What is “educational use”? [@ autounfocus]

David Wiley posts a survey on what should a Creative Commons Educational Use License include.

Options are: (a) authorship (b) copyleft ( c) non-commercial uses (d) formal education uses (e) educational and research uses.

I guess I disagree with most people, who see clear non-commercial uses is a must and formal education uses is too restrictive. In my opinion, this is wanting this license to do more things than intended.

My point focuses on education, and this is the word. I try and forget all other issues.

In education, it is important who says what, so
a) authorship
c) formal education environment
are musts just because they guarantee there’s a true commitment with education.

Copyleft? Well, if you want it copylefted you can use some other kind of license.
Commercial? Why not? I mean, this is not the most important thing. The “general” educational use license should have both options: commercial and non-commercial
As for (e) I find it too general and (d) brings the appropriate context and excludes (e).

What i mean is that there already exist other kind of licenses to fit less restrictive uses. Some people say main focus should be copyleft and non-formal educational uses (such as self-study): ok, use another Creative Commons License – no need to have all licenses doing the same.

My 2 cents. Hope no one felt attacked – far my intention :)


Want bad news?: ITU Digital Access Index: World’s First Global ICT Ranking

Octeto pointed on Monday to the ITU Digital Access Index: World’s First Global ICT Ranking.

I couldn’t agree more with this statement: “Our research, however, suggests that affordability and education are equally important factors”. I’ve always believed that (access to) content and services are far more interesting than infrastructures (no wonder infrastructures are also a need, but should not get the main focus).

It’s “fun” to see there are some charts highlighting the top countries in different rankings but no lowest countries highlights: too crude to be shown? You have to go back to the Digital Access Index to see who’s in the worst position in this race.

BTW, I wouldn’t panic about Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, etc. and their digital divide: they surely are more concerned about their food divide, their health divide or their human rights divide. Of course ICT would help, but let’s not be cynical.