eLearning: The Students As Silent Stakeholders - Part 1

eLearning: The Students As Silent Stakeholders - Part I
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Summary: As eLearning continues to evolve, there are many voices contributing to its development. However, there is one voice that is not part of the conversation that needs to be heard. That voice is the students. This article presents a challenge for us to include them.

Students As Silent Stakeholders: A Voice That Needs To Be Heard

It is interesting that, in the developing story of eLearning, we have been hearing from the trainers, Instructional Designers, Subject Matter Experts, and those trying to satisfy the growth of eLearning by marketing products that they feel could be the next big thing in the eLearning market. We have also been hearing from instructors, technology specialists, and their fans.


However, there is one sector of stakeholders who perhaps are hiding in plain sight, but we have become so absorbed with our own sandbox that we have in fact neglected them. I am referring to students themselves. I think that students as silent stakeholders probably would like to be consulted, since what we are doing in the development of eLearning will have a profound impact on their lives; and in turn, on all of our lives. It is ironic that, in our informed practice and determination to stop treating audiences as passive objects to be acted upon, we are doing exactly that with students at many levels of the education systems we have populating our societies.

Disconnected Learners--Credit: Chris Wejr

Any new paradigm that we seek to use to aid eLearning development must include students not only as partners in life-long learning, but also partners in describing what eLearning should look like. Since we often refer to them as the "digital natives" of our connected age and we admittedly as adult learners are in the process of catching up, we should be getting and valuing their input as we go about disrupting their educational lives.

Higher Education And The Challenge

If you are an instructor or educational developer working in the realm of higher education, I have a question for you:

Do you have the courage and curiosity to honestly sample the views of your students when it comes to their education and how you present it to them? 

Engaged Students?--Credit: www.inspirelearning.com

Disengaged Students--Credit: www.inspirelearning.com

In order to effect change in eLearning that will benefit our students, and in turn all participants in our society, we need to ask them some critical questions and then brace ourselves for their answers. We may not like what we hear, but we should give them a forum to express themselves freely on this. To start off here are some questions to consider and I want you to consider the rationale behind each question:

  1.  As a student, do you consider yourself just a consumer of education or do you consider yourself a creative, innovative contributor interested in the improvement of education for all people?
  2. Would you say that your instructor makes effective use of the tools of online learning in order to enable you to grow in your understanding of what is taught?
  3. If not, what would you suggest should be used more and incorporated into the design of the lessons you receive that would engage you more, keeping in mind that it must serve a valid educational objective or goal?
  4. Do you keep up to date with changes in education?
  5. How useful would it be in your opinion to harness the use of social media, serious game elements, and online, trans-national collaboration in your personal eLearning?
  6. Have you participated in a MOOC before, and was it a positive or negative experience? Reason?

 The Challenge

I am challenging higher education instructors to share this article and the questions above with your students. I encourage you to share genuine student comments concerning this short article and in particular the questions, and post their responses to these questions in the comment section in the area where the article is posted. It is vitally important that we encourage conversations that will add the voices of the most important stakeholders, the students, to the way we design our eLearning experiences. The future shape of what effective eLearning will look like is dependent upon all voices being heard. In following through on this, we need to recognize that sometimes in order for education to evolve, risks must be taken.

 Next: Part II - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times": Motivation To Learn