I didn’t really think this was a point worth writing about – the obstacles I face explaining what exactly English for Asians stand for. Here’s a roundup :
- to create an environment to extend and constantly evolve communicative, collaborative and creative efforts in thinking and learning.
- to be an outcomes based, not exam-based learning paradigm.
- to nurture and develop abilities, self-directedness and higher order thinking
- to achieve the above with content leveled to the abilities of ESL learners.
- to provide additional support outside of F2F and/or sync/async learning.
Here is an article which evolved from notes I made about how else I could reach out to others while enhancing the chances for my students to meet, communicate and collaborate with others. English for Asians and its twin, O.L.I.V.E (Organic Learning Interactive Virtual Environment) has been gestating for a long time. It is only now that the conditions are in place for me to leverage on the knowledge, skills and tools to manifest them.
What EfA is not is a “product” or a slick marketing theme with unaesthetic animated flash pages. It’s not about improving performance on testing. (Even though we are a supplier school for Cambridge ESOL exams and give students the choice to take the exams if they wish to benchmark themselves and have prepared students for other standardized tests like English SATs, Toefl and IELTS). It’s not about scoring A-s. We don’t award certificates of completion just to give you a sense of paper ownership. If you want a proper certification that testifies to your language abilities, I’d suggest testing yourself against others in international exams like the Cambridge ESOL.
If you’re one of those parents who believe that scoring for exams defines the value of learning/intelligence or achievement, then I’m sorry, you’re not someone I’m looking for to engage in conversations. If you’re a young person who has defined your self-worth by the number of A-s you’ve scored because your parents could afford all those “accelerated programs for you” then I’m not interested in convincing you otherwise either.
EfA is not about turning a profit from every single student that comes our way. In short, it’s not about short-sightedness. It’s about offering an opportunity to acquire the thinking and habits of people who learn successfully and who know how to know what they want in life, what they’re good at and having the skills to meet the economic ecosystem of the 21st Century. It’s about identifying your potential to succeed and creating a platform where you can find support from peers and adults.
A better tomorrow.
(1) It has always been my dream to remove all barriers to learning. Technology has brought the costs of doing business almost to zero and has made this somewhat possible, to extend reach and to be more creative without needing to think about profit as the motivation to be doing it.
(2)There are way too many people who call themselves “e-learning” who are just out to make a quick buck and leveraging on people’s fear and ignorance of being left behind. If foregoing some income is the sacrifice I have to make to establish credibility in this chaos of what e-learning is, why not? Profit has a price, credibility doesn’t.
Educating others is my contribution to the world and I’m not being self-sacrificing – ask any amateur producer of content about the satisfaction one gets from trying to improve everything we’ve conceptualized or created. You cannot imagine the thrill of standing on this precipice of change and knowing the rules have not been written yet and one’s creative output, if relevant, will help shape the form of things to come. You cannot imagine how exciting it is to put a public face to your content and your writings, knowing that well-informed people from teaching, training, education and marketing will come across your stuff someday and scrutinize and question you over your ideas, ask for your references, premise and contexts, etc etc. There is no cheaper way to learn than to be criticized by someone who may actually know more than you. (Yes, I’m cheap! I’m so cheap I’m free.) – Satisfaction, intellectual and creative expansion are good enough reasons to be doing this.
I have to eat, yes. And I have to learn, research, experiment, travel to seminars, attend courses, buy books, etc and design and create content and all that costs money. I will extract as little as I can to sustain the efforts of this platform I hope to build but what I’m doing is not a product – it is a service.
I am the sort of business that doesn’t sell “stuff”. I know that’s hard for a lot of people to understand because the potential market for me to exploit and profit from is tremendous. Some people are about exploiting markets over what’s hot. I’m about transforming individuals who believe they cannot until they believe they can.
So, here is an article from 2000 that is still relevant on what elearning is NOT. I see so many people calling themselves e-learning when what they do is reproduce or rehash the same thinking from hard copy books onto flash pages or use an LCD projector with a badly designed powerpoint or word document. Some scan a book or reproduce it as pdf files for download and call THAT elearning. Finding a way to save paper by itself is NOT elearning, hello.
I see people who lift free ESL lessons, quizzes and grammar exercises off other people’s sites and then market it as “learn English online”. I see people who make low quality videos talking to the camera as if the audience were mentally challenged and upload those as “elearning”. There are people who use the free-service SKYPE and call it elearning. You can use a variety of tools, from videos, (quality) videoconferencing, online submissions of quizzes, questions, grading, etc but elearning is NOT about the one tool or the interface, it’s about an entirely new design architecture for 21st century learning.