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E-learning Challenges 2.0 .09

eMentoring – potential. I had a chance to participate in one discussion about online mentoring a few days ago. It was stated that online mentoring can be very valuable for tutor/mentor programs. For example, mentors and mentees can collaborate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any place in the world, they can stay connected even if one of them moves out of a town/state/country, they can track their conversations, use different medias, they can… yes, there are a lot of things they can do, right?

Limits? There was, however, one detail that attracted my attention; one short definition. E-mentoring was described as ‘mentoring with support of email, chat and forums’. At first glance it looked like a good short definition. … A few seconds later I realized: ‘Hey, e-mail, chat and forums are excellent tools – excellent, but over 15 years old’. It means that if eMentoring is supported just by email, chat and forums, we could have done it 15 years ago. Now those 3 tools are not enough. Wiki, blog, tagging, mapping, repositories, videoconference, virtual communities, social networking sites, mobile education to name just a few.

So, what should we do?

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

Change is overtaking every sector of society. Since the middle of the 1990’s, we saw huge changes in banking practices, entertainment production and distribution, ways we communicate, work, entertain, socialize…. However, despite those big changes, educational system is still, as a Kaplan University commercial says ‘steeped in tradition and old ideas’.

Dr. David Wiley has presented this table (Openness and the Disaggregated Future of Education, first two columns)
Dr. David Wiley, 2009
The table shows changes/trends in our society during the last 15 years. As you can see from the table e-learning methods haven’t yet adapted to fit our changing world which, since the mid 1990’s, has been increasingly digital, mobile, connected, personal, focused on creation and open. 1995 was roughly the year when we started to use e-mail, chat and online forums intensively. While today’s E-learning community has embraced the shift from analog to digital and tethered to mobile, the other four conversions have not yet occurred to a significant degree.

Change! That is a challenge – our educational system and eMentoring programs can/should be Digital, Mobile, Connected, Personal, focused on Creating and Open, and we should make these changes soon, right?

Distribute the future. William Ford Gibson said: ‘The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed.’ In our context it means that all the tools some of us consider as ‘the future’ were invented more than 10 years ago and there are numerous communities that already live/practice ‘that future’. For example, although wikis are considered to be tools that will be part of future academic environments, wikis were invented in 1995 and since 2000 wikis have been increasingly adopted in enterprise as collaborative software.

Challenge and solution. Yes, making that change is a challenge. What is the best way to make it?

What are your thoughts?