Some Historical Thoughts on the ee-Learning Renaissance by Jack M. Nilles, Innovate 3 (6), 2007. Synopsis: Jack Nilles surveys the evolution of ee-learning at the University of Southern California, together with the first formal telecommuting demonstration program, from its beginnings in the early 1970s to the relevant trends in 2006. Although the basic technologies of telecommuting and ee-learning were in evidence in the 1970s, subsequent technological changes have expanded the scope of opportunities for both. Nilles argues that societal trends in this century will increase the future importance of ee-learning, making it imperative for higher education institutions both to become involved and to adapt their curricula to this new learning environment.
Excerpt: The core concept of ee-learning is that the real world becomes the learning environment; in this environment, the purpose of the instructor is to help the distant and/or time-shifted student assimilate and evaluate his or her real world experiences, share them with others, and relate them to the disciplines of the academy. ee-Learning is similar to e-learning in that they both involve technological substitutes for collocation of student and instructor. They differ in focus: e-learning substitutes for the traditional, campus-oriented learning process; the focus of ee-learning is the student’s non-campus environment. One of the dilemmas in structuring e-learning or ee-learning environments lies in deciding how closely they should resemble the traditional undergraduate on-campus experience. This predicament is particularly relevant when the learners are not traditional undergraduate students, as is likely to be the case in the future. In order to provide some perspective on the transition issues, I would like to review some relatively ancient history and relate it to criteria for successful ee-learning today. What lessons from the past can help shape the future?
The August/September issue of Innovate explores the theoretical and practical implications of a distinctive mode of instruction known as “ee-learning” — a combination of the information technologies associated with electronic learning and the pedagogical principles associated with experiential learning. As the articles in this issue suggest, this approach to instruction holds much promise for revitalizing many sectors of education, from K-12 to higher education, governmental, and corporate settings.