Monday, March 22, 2010

The progression of Electronic Mail

One thing that astonishes me after reading Nola Campbell's article "The Vintage Years of eLearning in New Zealand Schools" was how far Electronic Mail (email) dates back. I initially thought email was a late nineties phenomena, but was proven wrong. I was first introduced to email when I was training to be a teacher ten years ago. During this time, email was a novelty and I mainly used it to communicate to Overseas relatives in Canada. Phone calls were quite expensive and letter writing was slow because of postage. Electronic mail was instant.

Campbell's research highlights the progression of electronic mail in the education system. Email, was first used in the early 1980's by men in the science and maths fields. Computers were greatly used in writing, instructional learning etc. There were significant changes made during the 1980's and up to the new millennium. Firstly, the Department of Education set up the "Computers in Education Development Unit" (CEDU). This initiative provided training to education and curriculum officers, and teachers in using Electronic Mail. During this time reports were issued out by the Department of Education instructing teachers how to use email. These reports in the late 1980's highlighted the success of email correspondence between schools in New Zealand and Overseas. The 1990's were also significant as the Ministry Of Education introduced Professional Development contracts in using ICT. These contracts provided teachers with training in developing knowledge and skills around using ICT's in the classroom. Emailing initiatives were running within schools, which promoted collaboration and networking between teachers and students. During this time, the Technology Curriculum came out and a new term came with it which was ICT (Information and Communications Technology). ICT was exploring the tools on the computer and developing knowledge around using them. Later came the term e-learning where the process of learning became an integral part to class room practice. The focus was more of the process rather than on the product.

After reading Campbell's article, questions lie for me: I was educated during the 1980's and 1990's, but email was not spoken about or implemented:
Where in New Zealand were the CEDU? in one main city e.g. Auckland or scattered throughout the country
Did the CEDU work with Senior managers and office staff first or were teachers shown how to compose and send emails?How come it has taken a while for schools to implement email?-if it was happening in the 1980's why weren't other schools' utilizing this communication tool- possible answers could be finance, attitudes from teachers, buy in from educators, etc.

Below is a timeline of the progress of electronic mail during the 1980'sBelow is the progress of implementation of email in schools during the 1990's

References: Campbell, N. (2004). The vintage years of e-learning in New Zealand schools. The Journal of Distance Education, 8 (1), 17-24

Headlam, S. (2006, September 09) The miracle of Electronic mail (Video File). Retrieved from

Email at it's early stages in the United Kingdom

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Defining E-Learning

I agree with the Study Guide 2, that E-Learning is about knowledge and processes. It focuses on the process of learning, rather than on the tools and technologies.
Holmes & Gardener, (2006) states "E-learning is online access to learning resources, anywhere and anytime" (p 14)
I believe E-Learning is much more broader than this definition. I believe it is about how these resources are utilized and the processes that they are used to empower student learning.
A question I would like to raise regarding Holmes and Gardener's definition on E-Learning is: Does it have to be online to be classed as E-Learning? I believe that there are a lot of software programmes that can be integrated into class teaching. Examples of this are: Garage Band and iMovie Webcam. The iMovie Webcam enables students to practice reading out aloud and it encourages them to critique their own performance as they can view themselves. They assess their oral skills and reading skills just through watching themselves. I use this as an independent activity in my reading programme.
E-Learning promotes learning to be conducted in a variety of ways. This includes independent and collaborative learning in an informal learning environment. Along with these types of learning it promotes the utilization of prior knowledge and new knowledge. It mixes the old with the new. It encourages sharing of old and new knowledge with others. In some ways it's like pass the knowledge on, so it has a domino effect.
In schools teachers would need to be adaptive with their ways of thinking and moving from traditional methods to new methods / approaches. An example of this could be in the form of communication. Instead of writing minutes / agenda's for staff meetings using pen and paper and copying it a number of times, creating a Google Document (Google Doc) would open the process up for staff to comment, reflect, and make suggestions.
In my class I integrate e-learning with my literacy programme. I also try to integrate as much e-learning into the school's Inquiry Learning model-when it comes to teaching Topic Studies.
Below is a literacy cycle that shows how e-learning is integrated into my Literacy programme. This Literacy Cycle is displayed on the wall and students' names are placed beside the stages that they are working at.

References: Holmes, B., & Gardener, J. (2006). e-Learning: Concepts and practice, London: SAGE Publications