The snail of e-learning = stress less

My wife and I were sitting down, just having a wee chat and a cuppa the other day, when we noticed this snail on the outside of window. To all intents and purposes it did not seem to be moving. The more I concentrated on it the more convinced I was that it was just sitting there. I turned back to the conversation we were having, but a few minutes later I was once again curious to see if the snail was still there. To my surprise it had moved quite a way down the window and was almost at the bottom.

snail of e-learning
The snail of e-learning

Let me compare this to the history of e-learning 🙂 “Now that’s drawing a bit of a long bow” I hear you say. Bear with me though and let me muse on this for a minute (it’s my blog after all).

Universities have been trying to come to terms with how to effectively mediate e-learning for well over a decade now. The University I work in (USQ) has offered fully online courses since 1997 and we have actually learned quite a bit over this time.  If we compare what we knew about e-learning then (much of which we kind of made up as we went along, based on adapting other forms of pedagogy) to what we know now, we are light years ahead of where we were. However on the surface, particularly for those of us working in the field on a day to day basis, things seem to be moving at a snails pace. There is so much we want to be able to do, but there never seems to be enough time to do it properly or fully.

One needs to put this into a broader perspective though. We have been dealing seriously with teaching in the e-learning space for only about 15 years.  But how long have we been dealing with teaching (as a formal activity)? A very long time. Although, one could argue we have always been dealing with some form of technology to support our teaching; ink on papyrus leaves, slates, chalk boards, white boards, overhead and slide projectors, drawings, images and graphics, reel to reel film, video, Roneo and Gestetner machines, inkjet and laser printers/copiers. However, unlike all the above technologies e-learning has allowed for the ubiquitous connectivity of learners, not bound to the classroom, or a particular piece of technology (as we now can access from anywhere, anytime, using any internet enabled device), albeit a classroom of a different type.

Are we moving quick enough though? Because, from on the surface we seem to be moving very slowly and some days we do not seem to be moving at all.  But we are. If I was to take six months off work and not look at anything to do with e-learning, when I came back I would see that the snail has almost reached the bottom of the window.

So what do I learn form this? Don’t stress about it, we’ll get there. We may not get there as quickly as we may like, but we will get there nevertheless. So if we don’t stress about it we may even be able to enjoy the journey a bit more too.  So for those looking on; if they concentrate too closely they may not see as much progress as they may like, but if they can be encouraged to pay attention only now and then, they will probably see we have gone further than they thought was possible and probably further than we thought was possible.  So let’s enjoy the journey.

3 thoughts on “The snail of e-learning = stress less

  1. Some positives about a snails pace (and e-learning) – Snails move slowly because they only have one foot, which creates a wave motion to project them forward (creating some ups and downs along the way maybe), snails cannot go in reverse (so always moving forward), snails are very flexible therefore able to turn around on the spot (always open to last minute change of direction). So it seems something moving at a snails pace is not all bad, if you care to look beyond the surface 😉

  2. From one who wrestled with converting a very interactive on-campus Human Biology unit to online wayyyy back in 1998, the snail has definitely moved a LONG way since then! Only new here but I can see we have much better tools to work with and I am relishing the possibilities!

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