Regular readers will appreciate the need to deviate from the
strictly ecological and environmental when a particularly interesting
area presents itself. Since this site was set up to promote
ecological education it follows that both words in the phrase
should be supported. Whilst this is not always the case - there
being very few educational texts of direct use in ecological
settings there is the acknowledgment that this topic, above
all others, is of value in our work and therefore worthy of
further consideration. That this is a website and not a conventional
journal lends credence to the idea that we should be examining
online ways of producing education!
basic idea behind the book is simple - there is a need to think
carefully about the production of materials before starting
to produce them. Although this might sound an obvious point
I think we can all point to times (probably too many of them!)
when we've led by doing rather than thinking and then spent
ages clearing up the resulting mess. The aim should
be to start looking at some of the issues involved especially
when on-line learning is very likely to involve two or more
educators. The focus here is blended education, the term referring
to a use of a range of materials for one setting allowing a
number of student outcomes. Of course, blended learning has
been around for ages (more usually called 'getting a range of
stuff for lessons') but the issue here is that there is a far
greater range of materials and that far more people are involved.
Having set the scene with the introduction, the first chapter
looks at the genesis of blended learning and outlines the sorts
of factors that need to be taken into account. Chapter two examines
the range of source types that can be use in blended learning
and provides some idea of their advantages and disadvantages.
By now the reader should have some idea of what they want to
achieve; chapter three suggests ways of putting it together.
It's not just a question of adding a range but getting the right
material for the right instance and its here that many people
make their first mistake. Remembering that we are working in
a collaborative environment the next stage, documentation, should
be obvious but there are many issues to be resolved as chapter
four discusses. Chapter five is really the crux of the book.
Its focus is on producing the right blend of resources using
the right blend of tools for the intended outcome and audience.
Considering that e-learning is a recent development, the authors
have amassed a wide range of cases that show how learning can
be handled. Examples of this are given and there's a very sound
critique of each method. A number of examples of best practice
illustrate the points made. Once the correct tools have been
gathered the next stage is to construct the learning experience
and provide sufficient documentation to make sure that everyone
can use it effectively. Following this, chapter seven tackles
another issue - getting material and building up a resource
bank. The range of possibilities is considerable but decisions
must be made and. more importantly, any scheme must be kept
going so this idea of gathering and re-using resources is critical.
Chapter 8 continues the progress through the system to review
the support systems needed to make e-learning effective. This
is not just getting tutors together but supporting distance
education students, getting time and finance and making sure
that advances are not lost. Finally, there are the ethical issues
to be addressed from privacy to copyright - available and useable
or not the same term.
is an excellent introduction to this new field. It surveys an
amazing breadth of experience and possibilities. The structure
of the book - from scoping to support and review - follows the
logical path that people would take if doing this from the point
of best practice. Numerous references allow the reader to follow
specific ideas in more detail and this is important because
of the range of ideas put in a relatively small space. Those
experienced in education but new to this field would take comfort
from the fact that many ideas that used to be seen as standard
good teaching are now part of the blended system but with altered
frameworks and nomenclature. New educators would find a wealth
of detail that could be used in either on-line or off-line situations.
Although aimed at the Higher Education market, any school teacher
could gain much from this text. Put simply, this is one of the
best reviews of its type - it should be required reading in
any education training course for any education level.