Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Step away from the screen!

Yesterday I heard a devastating critique of e-learning, from a source not just close to home, but actually in my home.

My wife is preparing for her ACCA professional accountancy final exams, and was explaining to me why she – and many of her accountancy colleagues – chose to attend classes rather than take the e-learning option. Basically, she spends all day slaving over hot spreadsheets, and doesn’t like the idea of spending even more time in front of a computer. This led into a discussion of the precautions she takes to avoid RSI, and how she always chooses, whenever there is a choice, to do things away from the PC.

As more and more of us spend more and more of our work time in front of computers, is this the fundamental problem with e-learning?

I think this helps explain why some people are reluctant to choose online courses. But it also illustrates a common misconception about what e-learning involves – it’s not all self-study in front of the PC.

Most importantly, this critique is not actually about learning at all. Instead, it points at how we interface with digital technology in general. See my post of 14 May re new interfaces – the time is near when we’ll no longer use a keyboard and mouse, but instead will use more natural interfaces. This is the problem my wife was highlighting, and for the time being, it remains an issue not just for e-learning, but for all applications of digital technology, especially those we deem less urgent or important.

And no, that's not my wife in the picture.

No comments: