Sir Ken Robinson in his book ‘creative schools’ argues that while personalisation is on the increase in commercial sectors it is often missing in education. Yet it is in education that catering for multiple intelligences, different interests and pace of learning are of utmost importance. (Robinson, K. Allen Lane 2015).
Disillusioned by the MOOC
Ronnie Burt argues in his blog that recent developments in online education, namely MOOCs, tend to promote a more teacher-centred approach with a pre-defined course path and little or no room to respond to learner needs. He criticises the approach MOOCs often take to learning, using video lectures and reading lists to deliver content which is then tested at the end of each module through quizzes or “drill and kill exercises”. (Burt, R. Edublogs Jul 23, 2013).
The EFL world
In regard to the EFL world, there are a multitude of course books with pre-defined syllabi, which can be equally restrictive. That said, I would hope that few teachers follow their course book page by page. This should also apply to MOOCs which I see as a tool for learning not an approach. One of the key elements behind student success is engagement and motivation. If the syllabus has no room for personalisation, students will soon lose interest in their studies and may even stop coming to class. According to Wikipedia, this is exactly what is happening with MOOCs, completion rates are lower than 10%. (1). Despite this rather pessimistic data, this may well be due to the fact that most MOOCs are free or offer no official accreditation rather than the approach teachers are taking.
The affordances of technology
Joe Dale in his article for the Guardian, paints a far rosier picture of technology-enhanced learning and states that the affordances of technology allow for greater creativity, collaboration and personalisation. Dale gives examples of making films, animation, blogging, recording audio and video conferencing to back up his claims. Despite this, Dale suggests that a large number of teachers only use technology for technology’s sake and fail to promote higher order skills. Finally, Dale sums up his argument by saying that effective technology-enhanced learning ultimately depends on the pedagogy that a teacher employs. (Dale, J. Guardian 2013). I also currently believe that technology is a neutral tool, it has no pedagogy attached to it, and like any tool it can be used well or misused. Nevertheless, due to the personalisation and choice we all enjoy in our digital worlds, some educators might need to up-date/transform their approach to meet learners’ expectations.
Joe Dale, Are language teachers leading the way with education technology. (The Guardian Thursday 16 May 2013 07.00 BST)
Ronnie Burt (Edublogs Jul 23, 2013)
Ken Robinson. Creative Schools, (USA, Allen Lane 2015)
Date visited (5/10/15)