Over the past few years my work has led me to explore the potential and pitfalls of Online Learning. It is a very new and trending industry and examples of both good, bad, and ugly abound. As a matter of fact, I found lots of the E-Learning/ Online Learning Courses that I came across that were very dry and dull. In essence, lecture style teachers were simply bringing their lecture style into an online platform. While some teachers are certainly brilliant orators, I found that this was limiting the power of e-learning technologies.
So in my research, I came across the work of Dr. Liz Hardy. Liz's work has been laser focused on making Online Learning, engaging and powerful. Liz is in New Zealand, so our time zones were difficult to schedule an interview, so she kindly answered my questions via Google Docs. Here are her insights into the future and possibility of Online Learning and education.
Bio: Dr. Liz Hardy is the founder of SimpliTeach.com, which shows online teachers how to work smarter - not harder.
Where to find her work:
Liz, I have been drawn to your work because you are very focused on Online Learning. Can you tell me your learning process with OL ?
My learning process involved jumping in at the deep end of e-learning, and starting to swim right away! I was suddenly teaching several courses in topics new to me, and I got very focused, very quickly! I asked a lot of questions of my poor colleagues, and trusted my own ability to adapt to my new environment and find my way around.
Part of the problem when you’re just starting out is it’s so hard to know if you’re doing a good job or not - and so you work like a maniac to prove yourself. That’s only natural - but it’s not sustainable (and early on, your methods are not efficient).
That’s one of the reasons I created SimpliTeach, actually - to save other online teachers the pain of working 24/7 to achieve the same result they could in much less time if they used better techniques.
What do you think the future of Online Learning looks like?
The movement into gamification and mobile learning are talked about a lot, as ways of meeting the ongoing challenge of engaging learners who are overcommitted and highly mobile.
Technological developments are always interesting (and of course necessary), but I think it’s vitally important to focus on the human side of learning first and foremost. There really has to be some rapport and trust in a teaching/learning relationship to get the best results.
What projects are you working on?
I’m really excited about some revolutionary online teacher training courses I’ve developed! They’re revolutionary because they’re highly relevant and actually produce results.
I think we’ve all wasted time on professional development activities that have taught us nothing.
In my experience, professional development courses often give you one of two extreme experiences:
- They’re dry and crushingly boring, or
- They’re pointless, and just plain annoying! I went on a course once that involved getting up every hour and walking around, flailing my arms to “shake up the energy in the room” before getting back to drawing on brown paper with crayons. Why, why why?
I want to offer online teachers the opposite of these kinds of experiences - targeted, online training that they’ll actually enjoy, and which gives them insider information they can apply right away.
That’s why I offer courses like:
“Hunting & Gathering 101: Survival Skills for New Online Teachers” - which shows new online teachers how to do a stunning job from day one of their first semester, and
“E-learning Stardom: Take Your Teaching Career to the Next Level” - which shows more experienced online teachers how to get the rewards they deserve for all their hard work!
Tell me about Simpliteach? What is its mission?
I founded SimpliTeach to show online teachers how to work smarter.
Over the last 10 years when teaching 5,000+ online students at all levels, I’ve noticed some recurring challenges, for both teachers and students. From talking to my network of online teachers and from doing a lot of reading, I saw that there was a need for some real-world solutions to these challenges.
So I draw on my own experiences, the experiences of my colleagues, and the wealth of published material out there to create simple, practical strategies for online teachers to do a fantastic job.
Do you see Social Media and online learning coming together? VR?
I’d say it’s inevitable - there are already lots of ways to use Facebook and Twitter as tools for both teachers and learners. But as I said above, I really believe you have to prioritise the human element and remember the technology is a tool.
Speed Geek Questions: Spin the Wheel 3 Times and answer the questions.
ex. first computer? Favorite operating system? Star wars or star trek?
Star Wars or Star Trek or Harry Potter
Star Trek, because they’re always up for an adventure - whether it involves climbing plastic rocks on an alien planet, outsmarting The Borg on cube-shaped ships, or dreaming up computer-generated fantasy worlds on the holodeck!
Although I do love the talking paintings in Harry Potter, and I have something of an owl obsession.
Favorite Social Network
Twitter - I’m amazed at how you CAN have meaningful conversations in 140 characters!
How do you Unplug From Technology
I like to go away for the weekend to one of the little country towns near me in New Zealand - drink in the 40,000 shades of green in the landscape, and keep a keen eye out for hobbits! I always bring a notebook with me (the paper type!) because I’m usually working on new ideas for SimpliTeach or my other websites...