I was attending the SMART Technologies GETS conference in Berlin earlier this month and was asked to present on distance learning and collaboration twice during the day. Whilst I was preparing my slides I couldn’t stop thinking “Why are we so interested in distance learning and collaboration?”.
Distance learning can be traced back to the 1700’s and collaboration just used to be called cheating – there is nothing new here, nothing innovative!
So why all the fuss? However I ploughed on regardless and produced twenty odd slides of sensible and rational argumentation on the importance of distance learning and collaboration hoping to engage and not bore my audience.
I was fortunate that the first group of delegates I presented to where highly engaged and even more opinionated (which I always enjoy!). And as the debate raged on about the changes in education and our need to do more with less whilst maintaining learning and teaching quality one bright spark piped up with; “ we have always done distance teaching, now we can do distance learning!”
Slightly speechless (and believe me that’s rare!) I stood at the front of the room and realised how monumentally profound that statement was. They were spot on! We have always done distance teaching – the one way dissemination of knowledge. With the reliable and scalable technologies we now have we really can deliver distance learning that is relevant, authentic, situated, collaborative and engaging.
So distance learning is not only new it is exciting and innovative and if done correctly game changing!