In reading my recent postings about the shifts needed to serve online learners (or any learner in my opinion), it marvels me that the ‘system’ is slow to react to these important needs and changes.
Is it the resisting faculty, the academic culture, creating the greatest barrier? Do faculty in the educational field respond in the same way? That, I presume, is another research focus.
I think the slow reaction might be the number of changes needed. First, there is the change in epistemological thinking – how we learn. This is rather a grand debate and one that will not likely change anytime soon. In the ideal world, stakeholders would be open to new pedagogical ways and thus reach for tools and environments that would support this.
Second, the need for online services that are flexible, accessible and available is also a large undertaking. To provide all the various needs of online learners such as courseware, tech support, tutorials, call centres, information, etc involves many pieces of hardware/software, staff, designers and administration. This might be the main reason for the slow evolution of providing the ideal online environment.
Whereas, newer institutions, virtual institutions, for-profit schools and the like can build the technological world they presume is best. They are new players looking at a different market and have capital funding to help them.
However, demand for elearning is expanding and institutions are faced with the need to address this. It will take planning, money, infastructure and team work – and mostly, institutional support. It will take a creative team on a university-wide scale with a vision, backed by online learning policies. And can’t there be both on campus and online delivery of education as complements of each other? When will the traditions shift to embrace a newer world and students who think and work differently?