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Fear and elearning

I'm exploring some of the barriers/inhibitors/resistance factors to take up of elearning. Fear from...

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Kate Tracy
24 April 2010

I'm exploring some of the barriers/inhibitors/resistance factors to take up of elearning. Fear from faculty strikes me as a significant concern for many. Any thoughts/readings?

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Gráinne Conole
9:46am 25 April 2010

Good topic for a cloud Kate! Fear I think is a major barrier to faculty engaging with elearning. Particularly now with the bewildering mass of web 2.0 technologies that are available. Many people just don't know where to start and of course with many of these technologies you need to experience them in order to get a feel for what they can do and how they can be used.

James Durkan
11:33am 25 April 2010

For the past year, I have held the post of e-learning development manger of a commercial training company. I secured the position on the strength of a promise to deliver a self-sustaining learning environment using e-learning 2.0 (relying heavily on Web 2.0 mash-ups).  To assist me, I hired an Instructional Designer from a local university who  was known slightly to me and who was facing the end of her contract. I knew that she was unqualified and inexperienced but I hoped she would be capable of doing the work I set her.

Unable to meet my requirements, she mantained a chinese whispers campaign to descredit me and the situation deteroriated to the point where my assistants refused to work with me or report progress to me. The Operations Director to whom we ultimately rreported was a weak individual who couldn't see the developing danger. Even when racism raised its ugly head (I'm Irish and they are all Welsh - she used that to dismiss my Master's in e-lLearning Design and Development - oh, and tell Paddy jokes), he didn't see any need to impose discipline.

Totally alientated, I resigned from my position last month and have been diligently serving out my notice from home.

Now, enough of the catharsis. It was necessary to give you an idea of the situation. Let me make my point. This company is on the brink of ruin. It has already been bought out, it has already been downsized and it's losing it's market share. The e-learning vision I promised them had initially been touted as the way forward. Now, due to the foolishness of this wayward ID, the company has abandoned that vision and settled for the ineffectual implementation we have all seen too much of. What it means is that they are peddling the same solution as their competitors at a higher price with a lower level of support.
We, here, are the ones who have been watching the game. Is there any one here who doesn't recognise the importance of collaborative working and social engagement in e-learning? And those who do appreciate that importance, is there any who can not see the value of Web 2.0 technogies in facilitating this?
This company has chosen a path that will almost certainly prove to be the final nail in its coffin rather step up to the challenge of creating a useful e-learning experience.

That oppostion was fuelled by someone who held a PGCE and only enough teaching hours to get that PGCE. My view is that that didn't even prepare her to the point where she did not know that she did not know. Consequently, she dismissed it because she did not know - and that is the widespread attitude. Ignorance, fuelled by conservative mindsets, instils a distrust of e-learning.

Carolyn Edwards
1:38pm 25 April 2010

You have my heartfelt sympathy, James.  

But this is such a new field, there simply can't be sufficiently qualified and experienced people working in it yet, can there?  And I wonder if that isn't part of the fear, or resistance at least, of many educators and also institution managers.

Luckily brilliant and dedicated people like ourselves are doing courses like this to fill the gap!  I hope your next job means you work with some of them, and that you can accept this apology on behalf of my Welsh compatriots (we're not all racists, honest).

Best of luck, Carolyn


Kate Tracy
8:58pm 25 April 2010

My sympathy too James.

Grainne's comment regarding the bewildering array is I think, part of it. For those not actively participating in their PLN around this area, then it is overwhelming - those new to the field, or out of the field are unaware of the richness out there. Getting up to date is daunting, and time consuming in terms of developing a skills base etc.

What then, makes the difference? Is it a personal attribute - in terms of mindful curiousity? Is it an open attitude? On the flip side? What motivates the fear?

Will Pollard
1:59pm 26 April 2010

James, can I ask what sort of support you had from senior management? I realise it is easy to suggest this is an advantage, not always possible to do much about it.  When you say the project was supposed to be self-sustaining, would that mean there was not much resource or an expectation it would be cheap? 

Deming said "Drive Out Fear" so this may be a quality issue. Trouble is there are few examples of his ideas working out in the USA / UK. I still think the policy in the organisation is a factor.

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