My own experience with online learning started on the first computer communication systems (BBS) that sprang up with the personal computer. At that time, unless one were formally studying computer science, these were the only sources of immediate information about hardware, software, and connecting. In addition I had the pleasure of participating in leading edge ‘shared visual and acoustic space’ experiments at U of T that set a high note for exciting shared learning experiences – online. 20 yrs. later, I’m still trying to reach that peak.
There are, of course, countless variations of online knowledge development and exchange. OHPRS has one of the best in the marketplace in Livelink. Another platform that almost everyone has access to is PowerPoint. A well structured presentation in PP converts nicely into an online presentation. In my view, this provides one of the best values and quickest way to get a learning module up and running. I recently read of a Livelink module that integrates this aspect of PP with LL.
After leaving OPC, I worked for two years in a commercial applications development company. My major project was architecting and leading development of an online learning management system. This commercial enterprise provides audio-visual and slide presentations, testing, assignments, related documents, personal continuing education credits and many other features. A Canadian endeavour, most of its clients are in the US. Unlike most other dot-coms, this one is thriving and growing.
More recently, there is the emergence of web logs. While not a formal learning system, they are a wonderful way of getting connected to leading edge information, experts, and tutorials on many subjects. Most web logs are individual efforts, although group web logs are emerging.
References, if you’re interested:
Using PowerPoint – http://www.web.net/~simon/CITM696/archive.htm – this contains a full set of PP lecture slides and notes that I use when teaching system design at Ryerson. The dates may be a bit old. I am teaching this course again starting May 5/03. The site will be updated before then.
The Learning Libraray – http://www.learninglibrary.com/ – note that one can take the first module of a course on a ‘try before buy’ basis.
Feature and company overview – http://www.learninglibrary.com/corporate/doc/TLLFunctionalityOverview2_2.pdf – this document is a model of not only clear and comprehensive summary, but also of corporate disclosure.
And, my favourite quote about teaching and learning. Paolo Friere wrote it, my friend and mentor, Don Forgie, taught me its meaning.
“Human activity consists of action and reflection: it is praxis; it is transformation of the world. And as praxis, it requires theory to illuminate it. Human activity is theory and practice; it is reflection and action. It cannot be reduced to either verbalism or activism….” — Paulo Friere in Pedagogy of the Oppressed