SEVEN. What Are the E-Learning Building Blocks?

Even though I realize you're a businessperson, and not an instructional designer, you still need a brief survey of the e-learning building blocks and what they can be used for. It would be the same if you were interested in constructing a bricks-and-mortar classroom building: You'd need to know that classrooms need student workspace, instructor workspace, and instructor tools like whiteboards, flip-chart pads, overhead projectors, and so on.

-1. What are the basic building blocks for e-learning?

- There are only a handful of basic elements for e-learning. They include:

- Virtual presentations and lectures

- Virtual interaction with people

- Web books

- Simulations and games

- Virtual interaction with real things

- Virtual reference library

- Assessments and quizzes

- The building blocks are seldom used alone—they are usually combined for a specific learning experience.

Tell Me More

If you're going to run traditional classroom training, your basic instructional building blocks include:

- Instructor lectures

- Instructor question-and-answer sessions

- Group discussions among students

- Group projects by students

- Self-directed learning by the student from reading books, handouts, etc.

- Hands-on equipment exercises

- Tests and quizzes

You need something akin to the same building blocks to run an e-learning experience. The following table shows the building blocks we'll consider in this book arranged by the IBM 4-Tier Learning Model, which is described in detail in the appendix and which was used in the previous question/answer section.


Tier 3

E-Learning Building Blocks

- Virtual interaction with things

- Virtual interaction with people

Tier 2

- Simulations and games

Tier 1

- Virtual presentations and lectures

- Web books

- Virtual reference library

- Assessments and quizzes

Note: One building block doesn't fit in the 4-tier model: student tracking and reporting. The tracking of students is not part of the student learning experience, but it is vitally important from a management point of view.

It's important for you to realize that all these building blocks are not needed all the time. You might find that your learning situation requires only a few of the building blocks to achieve your goals. And that probably means lower costs.

-2. What are virtual presentations and lectures?

- You can deliver lectures—an instructor or presenter talking about a topic—over the Internet in the same way you can deliver them face-to-face in a classroom setting.

Tell Me More

A standard education image is the instructor standing in front of a room of students and lecturing on a topic. (We're pretty sure that Plato and Aristotle taught this way.) A standard business image is similar: A businessperson using overhead transparencies or projected PowerPoint slides to describe a business situation. Many conferences are almost exclusively presentations by experts in the field lecturing to conference attendees.

You can do the same thing over the Internet as part of an education experience. You can show:

- The instructor talking while you hear her voice. (This is sometimes called the "talking head" approach.)

- PowerPoint-type slides while the student hears the instructor's voice.

For example, let's say you are taking an introductory class in statistics. The class will start off with an introductory lecture by the instructor. The class then might have daily lectures as the instructor introduces and explains statistical theory step-by-step for the students.

You have two "timing" alternatives for lectures:

- You can transmit "live" lectures. In this case, everyone has to be "there" at the same time.

- You can record the lectures ahead of time and transmit them to the students. In this case, students can view the lectures at a time that is convenient. (You can also record a live lecture and replay it later in recorded form.)

To make lectures work you need:

- A speaker who knows what he is talking about.

- Optionally, student handouts—either to help the students follow along, or for later reference (e.g., an outline of the lecture with the main points). You could send such handouts to the students electronically with an email attachment, or you could put them on a Web page for students to download later.



- Can be recorded for replay

on demand.

- Can be delivered "live" over the Internet.

- Familiar method for knowledge/information transfer.

- One-way information transfer: The instructor talks and the students listen. By itself, a lecture lacks interaction.

- More appropriate for knowledge topics than for skills-based topics. For example, good for transmitting historical facts. Not so good for learning to play the piano.

At this point, I encourage you to turn to Chapter 2 and think about where lectures would be appropriate for each case study. Why?

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >