A square, and three non-tips

Ever sense Corona started there has been lot of discussions about E-learning. Today we find gazillions of tips on the web on “how to do it”. Everyone seem to know how you should do. But I don´t think you have heard these non-tips before. Embedded is also a square helping you to use them well.

Don´t ask for a budget

The big problem with money is not that we waste it and become lazy. The big problem is that we can afford getting help from others. Producers, consultants of different kinds, camera-men, post-production-editors, people that know LMS-systems etc.

But we do not use another person to do our Power Point-slides, do we? Well, perhaps, for a short while, in the early days of Power Point, we did use other people for it. But now we don’t. For a good reason; today we would even be against the idea of someone else doing our slides.

(Like me; you might remember plastic film – life before Power Point).

Typing on a lap top, and using Power Point, to an educator, is today just as natural as to use pen and paper.

Consultants might know technology. Producers and cameramen might know movie-productions. LMS-people might know hand-grips. But none of the might know learning.

Many external people that you might afford will not make things better for you. They will be in your way for learning modern digital tools yourself. They are also likely to be in your way for doing things in the way you actually want things to be done.

The less money you have, the higher likelihood you will be forced to do things yourself, and then you will learn new tools faster than otherwise.

We seldom learn as fast, and good, as when we need it.

Don’t forget to invite your partners, if you want to Tango

Like a lot of things that have become digital during the last decades: you can digitalize education, and then more or less continue as before. But what is the point of that?

You can for instance transfer a word-document into a PDF, and then call it an e-book. But the only thing you then have achieved is a non-possibility for your reader to change your own document. It has not really utilized what real e-books can become.

E-books on Amazon can do a lot that PDF can´t do. For instance; readers can click on a term they do not understand and directly get it explained with the help of Wikipedia. Readers can also see how others that are reading the same book have marked different sections in that book. There are a lot of interesting things readers can do with a “real” e-book, compared to what they can do with a PDF-file.

Should actually an e-book even be called “e-book”?

This was an example on the difference between “digitalizing” something, and using what digitalization really can do for us.

It´s the same with digital education.

If you previously just one-way-broadcasted in your physical classroom you can do the same on a digital channel, like for instance on Zoom. But what it the point of that?

Instead, you can do far more with digital education, and Zoom. You can for instance involve the participants to a far higher degree than you were able to do when standing in a physical room.

However; let the participants know, if you try to involve students in a different way than before. Because…the old and most commonly spread perception of education, what I just called one-way-broadcasting, is obviously so deeply embedded in all of us, that your participants could become heavily surprised.

At this moment it even seems to exist a pretty big proportion of “students” that, seriously, seem to prefer an old-fashioned digital one-way-broadcasted version of education, compared to being involved.

You know: It takes two to Tango. But sometimes an invite to dance has to be made several times before you get a dance-partner.

Sometimes even customers have to learn that there is a better world to be found out there. And making them see that, can actually take some time.

Make the ones joining aware of your way of doing education, if you seriously utilize what digital technology can help you out with today. It can increase the likelihood of your students enjoying what you are trying to achieve.

Changing culture is not the same thing as changing a shirt.

Don´t get hold of the message, get hold of the media, first

There is an old saying that media is the message. Another way to claim the same is that the form we use for something defines how that something even can be.

Vinyl records is a good example, particularly singles, the ones we played in 45 rpm. That was a format. But embedded in that format was also a limit on how long a song could be – it relates to how much data you physically can pack into a 45 rpm-record.

Hence; here you find the reason why a pop-song, in average, became something like 3 minutes long.

Single Pop songs did not become 3 minutes long because it was what listeners wanted. They became 3 minutes long because that was what technology at that point in time could manage.

It is the same thing with digital tools for e-learning. Some of them are great, on some things, but bad, on other things. And what they are able to help you with, defines what you actually even can do.

So, planning for a course without knowing what technologies to use, and what they can do for you, is most likely not a good idea.

Already in the old days we took technology into account when we planned education, but perhaps we did not think that much about it – it was embedded in our way of being.

You can also claim that it gave us the circumstances we needed, in order to even do some kind of planning.

Education adapted to all that, even without us thinking about it.

If you in the old days were used to classical classrooms you were probably also very used to stand in front of all students – perhaps at the front, at least never in the middle, of the room. You spoke, they listed. All lights on you.

A digital tool like for instance Zoom do not put you on a pedestal. It is even so that students themselves more or less can decide where in the “room” they want you to be positioned.

There is painter that one’s said: “I can´t paint on a plain white paper. The first thing I do when I see a plain white paper is to draw a square. I need that square in order to get started. I just can´t break any rule, nor a limit, unless I have that square to pass the boarder of. And I neither can know if I play within rules, unless that square does exist, and I stay within it.”

Decide on what squares you prefer working with.

Or in other words: Decide on what technologies to use, before you start planning, not after you course is already planned.

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