"True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own" - Nikos Kazantzakis
My own philosophy is based on the belief that e-learning has the potential to greatly enhance traditional delivery modes, improving accessibility and providing flexibility. I am not, however, convinced that e-learning on its own is the best solution for the majority of training and education applications. As a trainer, I believe that face-to-face interaction with learners is invaluable.
If we accept as educators the importance of catering for individual learner needs, then we must provide opportunity to get to know the individuals. In a face-to-face learning environment, a teacher is in a position to interpret the level of engagement and adapt the learning strategy accordingly. The possibility exists to monitor verbal responses, facial expressions, body language etc. and respond accordingly.
Once an understanding of and rapport with learners is established, then e-learning can be deployed in an informed manner to greatly enhance the learning experience. It has the potential do so for a number of reasons. E-learning offers a level of accessibility and flexibility that cannot be matched by locating learning in a central location at set dates and times. It can also greatly improve the presentation of course materials through media which use combinations of visuals, audio and text, i.e. catering for an array of learning styles. Interactivity with course materials, tutors and fellow learners may be incorporated which facilitate peer learning, continuous assessment and feedback. These are essential elements if a sense of ‘connectedness’ is to be maintained in distance learning.
A fundamental understanding of learning theory, and how it is applied in practice, is essential in the design of e-learning if it is to be successful in matching the 'added value' that a teacher brings to a face-to-face learning environment. E-learning can potentially simulate many of the best attributes of a classroom environment, providing significant opportunity for interaction and feedback. As a predominantly visual learner myself, I also appreciate the huge potential that technology provides for enhancing learning. The possibilities for producing graphics, images and video are almost endless and interest me immensely for their learning applications.