Pushing online learning towards the needs of Information Age

In general educators mean under technology innovation using new type of computers and faster Internet access, or for example learning new upgrade of a spreadsheet software. But when you start to speak about changes, in educational process itself and about organizational changes of schooling, then you are not called an innovator any more, but a block-buster.

And that's perhaps pretty normal. Educational system is (and must be) a conservative one and act according to the saying - measure nine times before you cut. Forces of gravity does not let you jump as high as wanted. And your, seems good, ideas are stopped and people say that it's alright, because if there's no gravitational force we'll blast off into the space. ... But the very positive point here is that some rockets still fly- those which are designed good enough for that.

Online education today means something alternative. A promising alternative though. During next few decades it will be a mainstream approach in lifelong learning process. This means that big and qualitative changes will take place in education in these days- changes in schooling organization, changes in education itself and in technology of course.

To idea to create World Online Educators Association seems to be right in time- big ideas are waiting to be handled. Just some ideas below.

  1. Better concentrate on 'online learning' rather then 'distance learning'. If today 'online learning' seems to be one sub category of 'distance learning', then soon things will change. Online learning may happen also locally. And after rethinking roles of a learner- teacher in learning process we will rename perhaps 'distance learning' into 'collaborative learning'. Just because physical distances are not that important anymore for pointing them specially out.
  2. Lifelong learning. .. Maybe it would be clever not to limit WOEA with college and university level education. Learning starts much earlier and ends in the moment we die. Also so called official schooling will be extended in the future .. We can work that stepping from one schooling level to another will not be a jump but a fluent and natural process for a learner.
  3. International aspect. Maybe I'm not right in concrete examples, please correct me then, but here is just a generalization of the situation. Jean Vermel in Israel knows well what's happening in Online learning in Israel and in US. David Wyatt knows about learning in Australia and in US. The same applies to me in Estonia- I know what's happening here and I know what's happening in America. But it would be nice to hear more about Israel and Australian and Japanese expertise. And maybe this is interesting to American educators too. Bringing and combining diversities together is far not an easy task, but if we succeed, we could make a pretty good synthesis.

Agree here fully with Fiona. Good words. If we want to do something big, then it's good to start small.

WOEA has to choose between to priorities: 1) be a big organization helping people to access online resources and also take care that all those resources and services are freely available. This means to donate to each member individual or organization. 2) put emphasize on developmental work and try to design new learning models of the Information age, by using the existing one parallel.

Second option sounds much better. At first of course because before to share resources and services there must be something more ready then it is now. Today we have some pieces of online learning. Or, how we say, something ready as alternative. The rest must come in coming years. If WOEA chooses developmental way, it can't offer help as organization (or take a role as an intermediate organization between donors and those who need sponsorship). Each member of WOEA must develop online learning in one of another way.

This issue is also very important from International perspective, with countries where living standards are not so high as in Western Europe or US. That's OK if you have no money, then you can offer your ideas or work which have concrete results. I like to see WOEA as an organization where people around the world can develop their ideas and work collaboratively, and everybody gets what s/he actually does or shares. Pretty sure that Eastern Europe has something to offer here.

Equity issues are important, but there's several other organizations taking care of this. And let' s be honest, what is the main message for local people from organizations of developed world who speak mainly about solving equity problems... The main message is that there's some money available. And there are several organizations and people who waste majority of their useful energy for getting various grants and have not much time left for the job. So these forces have enough time to come to meet potential sponsors to airport and make all needed contacts.

Now if WOEA manages to keep the developmental line, which means useful work at first and then, maybe also some resources, there will not be very many who meet WOEA in airport and no noise and rapid growth in membership numbers. But there is a wonderful possibility to hear silent voice of those doers who work with interesting ideas and have not time and interested in competing with 'big nonprofit sharks' on nonprofit funding market.

So, as you perhaps noticed I called WOEA already as 'ours'. This means, please count me in, Will do my best to add Eastern European accent into WOEA and try to help to turn it into an organization which can really push online learning towards the needs of Information Age.