#EDEN14 E-learning and employability shift focus on learning(again)

Blazenka Divjak, Univ of Zagreb Keynote speaker on day one of EDEN2014. Posed three questions: Is talking about learning truly mainstream? Do we know at least some of the answers? What can we learn from business and industry? Dilemmas: are we as educators aware of the power and responsibilities we have? “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” – John Dewey.

It is critical to study the intersection between learning theory and technology. It is not enough to passively integrate elearning into traditional educational approaches. We should set clear goals and intellectual challenge, create interest understanding and deep learning and have concern and respect for students and student learning.

The curriculum of today feeds the job market of tomorrow. We will need a high degree of creative and social intelligence as well as fundamental knowledge. The big challenges of today are the impact of the hyper-unequal economic model which generates a more antagonistic political landscape. Increases in inequality will lead to a less efficient and productive economy. Most students will now have access to a home computer – those who don’t tend to come from socio-economically disadvantaged families and do less well in education. Retention of students may also be impacted. How can elearning help? Divjak suggests that it potentially supports collaboration with employers, it can provide more effective tools for problem based active learning, it can also support access and retention. More appropriately designed assessment can also provide deeper learning and support for individuals. Finally the teacher has a positive influence on the learner, creating a social presence, resolving issues and motivating students.

E-learning is a growing contributor to higher education although there is still some way to go and much to better understand and improve. Divjak beliefs that blended learning works and can enhance learning and learning outcomes. We still need to reduce costs, increase completion rates and student satisfaction and focus on learning outcomes. It will be the dominant approach to teaching and learning in HE. A ‘one size fits all’ model will not work and can be viewed as ‘intellectual neocolonialism’. Open access is key, but we must be aware of the digital and creative divide.


About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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