eLearning .....? I've had E-Nough!!

This is my version of the whole episode of e-learning .. specifically the LEARNING part and what the 'e' is all about ..


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Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The iceberg principle
I call this next input, the Iceberg Principle ..and what has this got to do with technology .. or educational technology.

Imagine that you have just been to a 2-hour movie, sat comfortably in the cinema armed with the usual fare of popcorns (honey coated of course), perhaps hot dog and the supply of fizzy drinks to wash all of it down.

That 2-hour movie you saw took perhaps 2-years of the directors life to produce, not to mention all other people involved in the production, editing, sound mixing, special effects, costume, lights, dubbing, stunt man, doubles (the ones who got bashed on behalf of the hero) and make-up artists and so on .. this is just off the cuff..

Well ... that 2-year life of those involved is what is not revealed to us. Next time you watch any movie, remember those 'behind' the scenes.

How is this any different from trying to establish an online or computer mediated learning environment. What can we have in a computer mediated format? .. perhaps too many to mention, but the few popular ones such as a video playback, podcast, or audio file .. and power point. Thing is, these things do not fall from the sky .. someone has to produce it. More precisely, it has to be planned, designed, addressing certain needs and recording, editing and upload it.

So when we see a well planned lesson on the Internet, then someone took the trouble to design it as such .. and painstakingly took the trouble to make it student-friendly, pedagogically articulated and loaded with content addressing different learning styles. Is this too much to ask?? Hehehehe ...

So .. who is actually going to do this ?? The lecturers' themselves, whoa .. no way .. I know the answer .. but then again these are the issues not resolved at institutions of higher learning and even in schools. To obtain excellent learning objects require excellent input .. I say it again, garbage in, garbage out.

This is a major missing link in any institution. The transition from chalk and talk to multimedia computing and web based learning is like walking on earth and taking a rocket into outer space ... and for as long as we don't want to accept this, and put the necessary support mechanisms .. all this hype including e-learning will not work ... something will be there, no doubt, scanned notes, power points, drill and practice, quizzes and wonderful graphics and it looks good. ... yeah . we are good at looking good ... any difference in the students performance ?? ..yeehaaaa ..

posted by Rozhan @ 2/26/2008 12:53:00 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The paradigm shift
By golly, time waits for no man (or woman ..) .. been almost two weeks since I last posted. Up to my eyeballs with datelines ... anyway, the saga continues ...

We have kind of tackled technological innovations and its effects on our educational endeavours .. and how we get all excited in keeping up with what next lurk in the corner .. with Hawthorne effect in tow .. and after all the fanfare of launches and pilot projects and a few published papers ... we are back to usual grind....

There are institutions that has taken into the integration of technology in a big way, medium way and perhaps .. no way ..

Those who are willing to commit, put in the bucks, human resource and time will be on their way. Those who want to get of the ground but are buying the cheapest stuff, and asking too few people to do so many things and not putting the right people on the job, are struggling to make an impression, painfully. There are those who are trying to get something from NOTHING, I wish you all the best!!

Shift we must ..even the sand on the shore shift with every stroke of the wave ..

The student are the direct recipient of the changes wrought in by the technological revolution. I can still remember sitting on the floor in my primary school days listening to a music lesson on the radio. Our children or students these days are bombarded with gizmos of the electronic kind, with cyber cafes and interactive technology (such as the Atari and Nintendo) in the living room. Our children have been raised in a world of instant access to knowledge and information, a word of automation and remote controls and simulation capabilities to stimulate the mind.

Although schools are embedded in this technological culture, the education system is largely unchanged. Given the exposure the children experienced in their daily life has resulted in an estrangement of the schools from society, and from the children who live in it. They are caught in an awkward bind as they move toward the future, but the institutions responsible for educating them are locked in the past. In contrast with the technological innovation they are exposed to in the home and society, schools strike them as rigid, uninteresting and ultimately alienating - This was what I said in my Keynote address in Bahrain in 2001 ... it may be different now ... is it really ...

Technology notwithstanding, what has shifted .. Dwyer (1994) talked about the deconstruction of traditional pedagogies, viz,















Facts & Rote Learning

Active Collaborator


Passive Listener

Critical Thinking


Accumulation & Retention of Facts

Transformation of Facts/ Ideas


Drill & Practice

Collaboration & Interactivity


Has anything shifted?... seriously!! ... let's do an honest audit of the above parameters and see whether any shift has occurred. I have five children, of which 2 are still in school. The eldest is already working, the second in university and the third is still waiting for her SPM results. I have seen them go to school and the things they had to do .. and I DARE SAY IT IS STILL THE SAME AS WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL .. with the exception of using the computer to re-type the frikking text book .. I always say to them, buy another book or photocopy the bloody book and give it to the teacher .. dang what pedagogy is that??

There is a lot of hype of what the computer can do .. we know what the capable of being 'told' to do .. what WHO is telling it?? Who is using it to its fullest capacity, the wonderful multimedia computing waiting to be exploit !!! Let us be honest .. we kind of compile ALL the new tools that is up and coming .. man we are still struggling with **** power point!!

Look, if we are going to build a house, we need tools, definitely, specific tools for specific jobs, special tools, custom made tools, imported tools, or perhaps we have to invent a new one because whatever is available is not good enough to do the job! Basically, ONE tool cannot perform all the necessary building functions ..

Now, change that house to a classroom with 30 students, say .. we keep talking about personal preferences, learning styles and different cognitive levels, bla..bla..bla.. please put your hand on your heart and tell me you know the learning styles and preferences of all the students in your classroom ..Hands up!!

What has shifted .. only the computer has shifted INTO our lives .. we have not shifted any education system .. we will talking abut this 10 years down the road .. same old story .. The Malaysian Smart School is already 10, yes 10 years old .. any impact ... ??Any report of any impact . I have not seen any .. have you .. anyone ??

I am not worried at all about the deluge of new tools .. as I always say in my talks, we hve more technology than we know how to use .. Please do not make the mistake of equating tools and pedagogy .. as if it is one and the same .. a tool is just a tool, it is how it is used and for what purpose makes it a technology ..

[Taken verbatim from: The Intangible Economy] - According to Tom Friedman, The World is Flat. Friedman means that advances in telecommunications and globalization have leveled the playing field so that anyone came compete with anyone else - Indian programmers with Silicon Valley computer jocks; Chinese fashion designers with New York's garment district.

Not so, claims Richard Florida. In forthcoming piece in the Atlantic Monthly - complete with fancy graphics - Florida argues that The World is Spiky.

By almost any measure the international economic landscape is not at all flat. On the contrary, our world is amazingly "spiky." In terms of both sheer economic horsepower and cutting-edge innovation, surprisingly few regions truly matter in today's global economy. What's more, the tallest peaks- the cities and regions that drive the world economy - are growing ever higher, while the valleys mostly languish.

Look at the Spiky world map on Richard Florida's site. Very intriguing and the Econ map ....

Spiky could be more accurate .. just look at the two photos ... 'nuff said ..

posted by Rozhan @ 2/20/2008 01:18:00 AM   3 comments
Thursday, February 7, 2008
The biasness of technology
You think technology is neutral .. and can assist in all situations. Think again. You think giving a computer will solve all your problems? Think again !! Think having a computer will solve your management and teaching problems?? It may even be the beginning of your problems ....

We have this simplistic view of naively expecting too much from the computer or any technological gadget we input in any scenario ...

We have this simplistic idea that our existing problems, such as reports, class list, data management as well as the pedagogy in our teaching processes can be solve with technology (whatever ...). Prepare a power point presentation from our existing (and old .. ) notes and we think we have moved mountains .. bah ..

Like I said before, all these gadgets can do nothing - unless they are used in the appropriate and innovative way to assist in addressing our problems. This is one of the biggest problem - WHAT IS THE PROBLEM??

When we introduce any new technology, we must be aware that the way we do things will not remain the same. Did the handphone change the way we can do things ... but was there a limitation? Of course, a remote place that has no communication node will render your hand phone useless ...

Here are a few pointers for us to bear in mind when we are dealing with technology;
  • Every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage
  • Advantages and disadvantages are never distributed evenly across the population
  • Embedded is a powerful idea or ideas that posits a philosophy
  • Technological change is ecological since it changes everything -

    The ecology is often created by the architecture of the physical setting. There is the front and the back of the classroom, with the teacher in front and students at the back. The teacher lectures to the students each day about a particular procedures or topic, which the students sit at the desk and listen and take, notes. Class starts and ends at designated times. It is understood that students have out-of-class learning assignments, and in return for their interaction, participation and feedback, the teacher will assess their learning and give them a grade. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

    All of a sudden, with ICT which afforded audio and video teleconferencing capabilities, computer-mediated communications and interactive technology, teaching and learning interactions, as we know it today may never be the same again, or is it?

Different technologies also have different biases:

  • intellectuals and emotional - those who are troubled with learning to use the computer will say that it is not necessary to use it ..
  • political - now is a good time to ask for computers as the election is coming up ..
  • sensory
  • social
  • content
Next time you want to implement any technological innovation in your institution or place of work, remember all this issues ... it might explain why things are as they are ... So don't be fooled by a tool . ... yeehaaa ..

posted by Rozhan @ 2/07/2008 01:22:00 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Information & communication technologies
Information and communication technologies or popularly mantraed as ICT has a simple enough meaning but can be equally confusing. It just irks me when people simply cite ICT without actually knowing what they are talking about.

What does ICT mean? Simply information and communication technology .. so what does it mean .. ? It carries the connotation that it is about technology that can be a medium for processing and storage of information as well as the ability to be moved from place to the other ..

But when we say, the use of ICT will improve education, what do we mean? I dunno, to me it means nothing!! What do you think .. ICT is a general word. Radio, Television, Video cassette recorders and computers are ALL information and communication technologies.

It looks as though that when we say ICT, we mean the computer, such that ICT=computer=ICT. It is no better than saying that all cows are animals, and all animals are cows!! Dang .. I can't stand it .. why can't we be specific with the ICT that we are talking about ... makes no sense just to say ICT!!

Let us look at examples of information and communication technologies and what they really mean in operational terms ...

Printed materials - print technology that be taken anywhere and easily accessed, requires no electricity, easy to update, can be read with just a candle, multi lingual and can be incorporated with audio and visual components

Radio broadcast – communications transmission in audio. We have sound, intonation, instruction, verbal cues, emotions, motivation, anger, hatred and love

Television broadcast- liberated from static illustration. We can now see colours, movement, live and recorded events , advertising, entertainment, education and many more ..

VCR – Anytime, anywhere –personal location, provided you have the player. What can be viewed can be slowed down , can be speeded up, can be paused, kept still, and watched over and over again ... the VCR is purported to be one of the greatest technological invention .. and how didi we use this in our teaching practices??

Satellite – Immediacy and international access - live football, concerts, breaking news, events ...

Cable & ISDN – cost effective way of reaching one another globally

Computer – convergence of all forms of communication/instructional delivery

Wireless – free from physical links, nothing more, out of range and you're done for ..

A cartoon from a famous Malaysian artist named Lat .. talking about wireless ...

So, after deciphering the real picture behind the technicality of words, we address the operational delivery medium used in instruction in any form of educational setting, in the form of the ..

  • Printed materials (book or self-instructional)
  • Audio and visual transmission
  • Audio & Video Cassettes
  • Laser discs
  • Floppy discs
  • Compact discs
  • Tele Conferencing (Audio, Audiographics, Video)
  • Computer Mediated Instruction
  • World wide Web - Internet
  • Virtual reality (VR)

..... you can add to the list, no problem .. yeehaaa

posted by Rozhan @ 2/05/2008 10:26:00 PM   2 comments
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Technological advancements
We talk about advancement or innovations in technology .. but what does it mean for us in education?

Firstly, what can advancement in technology afford us? Just take the hand phone that we carry around nowadays. Wow, it would be unthinkable for people to walk around and having a phone with them .. and probably talking on the phone while walking in a crowded street .. it means that the advancement changes the way we can do things ..

So ...
each major transition in communication media, from speech to print to video to electronic forms has resulted in changes in our means to;
  • create
  • record
  • store
  • distribute
  • access and
  • retrieve information

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS IS THAT – There exist a change in the way information is handled – and in EDUCATION, it means that there exist a communication transformation upon a technological breakthrough in education .. communication between the teacher and learner .. no matter what medium is used ..

This is then TRANSLATED into teacher-student interaction !!! We can now do what was thought as NOT possible before .. we have the technology .. in fact, I always say that we have more tools than we know how to use ..

Technology is just a tool and enhancer, an enabler .. which brings us to the million dollar question .. What have you enhanced in your teaching practices?? What have you enabled ?? What (teaching practices) has fundamentally changed ?

or are we doing the same ole' thing .. no matter what new tool you are given??

To put in Dwyer ....

yeehaaaa ...

posted by Rozhan @ 2/03/2008 11:51:00 PM   3 comments
Technology .. definition of ..
Let's start the ball rolling with the definition of technology. This would normally be my first question in my presentation .. we need to get our premise and framework accurate and aligned ... not a skewed perception or one based one what is told to you.

Naturally, I have to authenticate the definition, otherwise you won't believe a word I say. So you can find the definition on the Internet in the usual way, by searching for technology (1,2). Yeh, yeh .. people will go about that it is from greek origin bla, bla, bla .. you can check out the given links.. but you have to go beyond the definition and operationalise it ..

This is the definition that I put up:

TECHNOLOGY is defined as tools, processes, material resources and creative human intelligence applied to the solution of a practical problem

So, next time you want to consider using a technology, test if you can satisfy this definition. We may have the tools, yes ... we do.. , the computer, say .. Then we have the usual processes of setting up and configuration .. we can do that, no problemo ..

Next we need the materials resources .. let' s consider this as the content in a broader sense and this is followed by creative human intelligence .. means how clever we are at utilising that tool .. unless we expect the tool to be cleverer than us .. and believe me, this happens ..

Puhleees, the computer ain't gonna be able to do anything more than you tell it to do .. you can stare at it and it stare at you until the end of time .. and nothing, nothing will happen ..

Finally we need that wonderful tool in the hands of the expert to attack a certain problem .. so that we can solve that problem using that tool. Wonderful!! .. but what is the problem? What is the problem you so eagerly desire to solve when you decided to use that particular tool??

In education, we call it educational technology, which basically means we are using a certain multimedia tool to tackle a problem in the teaching and learning process so that we can enhance the teaching and learning process. Comprende??

I do not have the answer for you .. you have it it you own hands .. why did you want to use the particular educational tool and what is problem you are trying to solve. If you have a concrete rationale, then you have got the appropriate application of that tool .. otherwise ..

This is what happens when I ask teachers on why they want the students to surf the Internet .. the answer is always the same .. to get information .. I will not go any further as to the course of the conversation.

You see, we haven't even maximised the blackboard .. and I can prove it to you .. people always say that classroom teaching is boring .. but I beg to differ .. we made it as such .. why is there only 1 (one) blackboard in the classroom?

Can we have more than one, say 2 or even 3? Can we apply collaborative as well as cooperative learning in the classroom? Can we do group work? Too time consuming? Why not plan for it .. everything has to be planned anyway .. plan to make it interesting .. just look at the photo below ...

What do you see? Three boards, three groups and three different designs on the boards!! Wow .. and this is just using the blackboard .. how about coloured chalks? .. wont' it be colourful and pretty ..? We can even say, minimum technology, maximum activity/efficiency ... sometimes we have maximum technology and minimum activity ... think about it ..

I am going to move away from classroom teaching, but not before I put up something I found a long time ago .. and I cannot find the reference for it now .. I take no credit for it .. and if you know where it came from, let me know. It is entitled as 50 ways to lecture .. see how many have you employed in your classroom teaching .. and who said all you had to do was dictate your notes or ask the students to copy from the board .. or worst still, the teacher is the only one talks .. and this is even true at tertiary level ... no kidding ..

yeehaaaa ....

posted by Rozhan @ 2/03/2008 09:54:00 AM   1 comments
Saturday, February 2, 2008
I can't take it anymore ..
I can't stand it anymore .. I have to do this. Call me what you like .. but looks like I have to jump on the bandwagon as well ... so here goes another blog about e-learning ..my version, of course.

I have been in open and distance learning for the last 22 years and have been specifically trained as an instructional designer, self-instructional materials (some call it modules) writer as well as the art of story boarding and a few other skills.

I have had the opportunity to apply this since 1986 when self-instructional text was the mainstay (and still is - those who understand the whole concept will agree) in any ODL structure. Then came the incorporation of audio and video cassettes, computer aided instruction (or the many names it is called by ..) and the use of teleconferencing facilities.

Then came the Internet, and all hell broke loose with access to lots of goodies not experienced before ... who cares about teaching using the Internet .. there was too much to salivate on ....

In all, we are just experiencing a change in the medium, just like changing your car from time to time .. or kind of getting a bigger car with more gadgets each time .. to unfortunately carry the same crap ..Ever heard of the expression, "Garbage in, garbage out .." Somehow, by moving to an innovative medium will automatically transform the junk into something new and better ... fat chance ..

Sometimes I find it absolutely comical when I hear people complaining about the 'quality' of education on the Internet, when no one ever bothered to scrutinise the 'quality' of face to face teaching .. We are so bothered whether students actually log online to view our notes when we don't even recognise the 200-odd students in our lecture (face to face) ... such dichotomy .. The funniest thing is that .. it is as though there is someone else to be blamed for what is not working with elearning or whatever learning you care to mention!! Who is to be blamed ?? If a lecture is boring - who made it boring?? If a lecture or teaching experience is captivation, who made it so?? YOU!!

Anyway, enough ramblings for one sitting .. this is my journey into technology and learning that I am going to share with you .. hop on my wagon, and see my views ..yeehaaaa ..

posted by Rozhan @ 2/02/2008 12:41:00 AM   0 comments

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Name: Rozhan
Home: Penang, Malaysia
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