E-Learning and Public Education

CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis

Let’s face it: great blended, online, virtual digital public schools and courses will always be few and far between. The problem with public education is that it is habitually underfunded. For years, I remember being in a classroom and struggling to get things such as paper to use in my class before going paperless. Today, we want schools to build great online virtual lessons and courses for our students. Before last year, my wife used to be one of the best classroom teachers out there. She has the skills to come up with great lessons, but lacks the technical prowess—and the time—to bring those lessons to fruition.

Creating great online courses are a lot of work, and I know this from personal experience. Last year, when I took on my new position as the Supervisor of Instructional Technology and Media for my school district, my wife left teaching in the classroom for multiple reasons. She became an Instructional Designer consultant working with Elearning Innovation as a representative of Technology Integration in Education. Their products are excellent. The company develops custom online learning solutions for universities and other educational entities. While the output they create is very professional and top quality, it takes lots of hard work and planning. It’s literally a full-time, blossoming company and there are simply not enough hours in the day. They create great courses such as the one offered this month on TIE. If you haven’t checked out the series of Balanced Literacy workshops offered for free this month on TIE, check them out.  They’re very professional, but they weren’t created by a single person. It took a team of people to create what you see.

According to Edudemic.com and one of their latest infographics, creating effective e-learning takes at least five people and hundreds of man hours. It requires a project manager, instructional designer, multimedia designer, e-learning developer, and a quality assurance manager. As the infographic states, “effective online learning requires approximately 200 total man hours per instructional hour of enhanced e-learning.” Two hundred man-hours per instructional hour for any professional can get expensive real quick. Creating the courses offered this month for free on TIE was not easy, nor was it cheap. It took lots of planning, hard work and money in order to create these workshops.

Can today’s public education support this? Do they have the expertise or the money to ensure the creation of excellent and effective online digital learning?  Can they go it alone? The answer is, it will take companies such as Elearning Innovation to create mass amounts of content that can be chosen from and accessed by schools and districts for a fee. In the future, schools will provide the necessary teachers to moderate these courses that were created by someone else, for them. Various teachers throughout a district will use the courses. Cost of creating these courses will be offset by the advertisement space that will be sold within them. They’ll be created in such a way that the course facilitator can customize them in order to meet both their individual instructional needs and the needs of his or her students.

Who creates your e-learning courses for your district? How dynamic are they? Could they be better if you had a staff of professionals to dedicate to them? It’s time we start to work together to bring great content together. Dynamic lessons can be created and shared across districts and states. Thanks to the new Common Core Standards, this is now possible. We can and must share the burden and cost of creating these courses, but we can also share in the final product. We can create a repository of courses to choose from with online digital professional development created in the same way. We can pay for it through advertising and company sponsorship.

Regardless of how we approach online e-learning in public education, we have to think of doing it in a way that is not just cost effective, engaging, and well planned; we have to do it in a way that doesn’t overburden our already-strained public school educators. It’s time for real, effective e-learning in public education.

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Greg Limperis, Supervisor of Instructional Technology for his district, was formerly the Middle School Technology Facilitator in Lawrence, Mass.. He founded the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. He has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st-century skills. 

 

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2 Responses to E-Learning and Public Education

  1. Ferdi Serim says:

    Thanks Greg! I agree completely that designing and providing high quality learning experiences that fully harness the potentials of digital learning are beyond the abilities of any individual (even the most gifted)….like the rest of the world, it is now all about teams. Schools are still about “stand alone” teachers. Public education efforts that succeed in transforming from “schools” to true “learning organizations” will succeed because they find ways to function with the agility and freedom that we now see in exemplary ed tech startups. Note that these startups have a different set of challenges they need to overcome (but that would be a fine subject for a different article, as there is no “exit strategy” for public education and for-profits are all about being sold to someone else down the road). It clearly will take all of us, working together, to achieve the societal goals that led us to invent public education in the first place and you’ve done a great job of illuminating where we need to stretch!

  2. Kate says:

    Thanks for an insightful post, Greg! I’m wondering, do you think developing e-learning content lies in the hands of edtech startups who partner with teachers?

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