[Technology 1187] Pros and cons of e-learning at your desk

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David J. Rosen djrosen at comcast.net
Fri Jul 27 15:28:41 EDT 2007

Technology and Professional Development Colleagues,

In a recent "Breakthrough Briefing" newsletter from eLearn Campus,


Rick Nigol asks "Can You e-Learn at Your Desk? " and lists the
following pros and cons from a polling Elliot Masie did of readers of
his Learning Trends online newsletter. Nigol lists the following as
the pros and cons:

"The 'pro' side arguments tended to be centred around the following

• We all multitask all day, every day, why couldn't eLearning fit
into this mix?
• We tend to learn best in small chunks anyway, and can fit this into
our working day while at our desks
• Finding time to squeeze eLearning into your schedule is simply a
matter of making an appointment with yourself and putting everything
else aside while you do it

The 'anti' side arguments tended to be centred around the following

• There are far too many distractions (e.g. email, phone, instant
messages, pagers, bosses, co-workers, etc.) in most workplaces to be
able to concentrate on deep learning while at your desk
• There is no such thing as "do not disturb" in the modern workplace,
you are "always available," so forget about the 'schedule time for
yourself' argument
• You need quiet time away from all the noise, distractions, and
interruptions of your workstation to make real progress with eLearning"

Nigol's question is pertinent for designers of online learning for
adult literacy education teachers. When, exactly, do we expect
teachers to do this? We might say -- I certainly have said this --
whenever they can, whatever works for them. Suppose however that
they really can't do this on work time, that the level and kind of
engagement that we expect is impossible with the demands and
distractions of an adult education workplace, then aren't we really
saying that we expect them to do this unpaid on their own time, and
that we hope they do this because they are "professionals" and would
want to improve themselves? Shouldn't we, instead, be paying them for
this professional development time, and if so, how should we do it?
Or shouldn't we provide monetary or other incentives for completing
online (and other) professional development?

What are your thoughts?

David J. Rosen
djrosen at comcast.net