What is stopping some educators and trainers from more openly accepting and adopting e-learning solutions? [Quora]

This question asked on Quora was expanded here…

“While some trainers and educators have embraced the digital age and moved a great deal of their content and teaching material to web based an e-learning solutions some are reluctant to make the leap and leave the paper behind. Some entire schools, learning organizations and even corporate training initiatives have resisted the movement, why? Cost? Knowledge? Fear? Motivation? Culture? Tradition?”

The “e” in eLearning implies a lot of things. Ellen Wagner (@edwsonoma) described it as technical acumen combined with the knowledge of how people learn (http://elearningroadtrip.typepad…). To the question, a great many educators and trainers may understand how to use a variety of tools and technologies for their own learning or knowledge seeking, but in a different context, where that ability has to scale and be reproduced for a variety of learners, and perhaps, operate within tools, technologies and systems that they lack sufficient command — in such contexts, the new “cool” tool is not an option. There are a number of environmental/contextual factors as to why:

Teachers and formal educators in the K12 (P20) space work within any variety of curriculum guidelines and “achievement” goals for their students/learners. In addition to their own intrinsic concerns, they must also navigate a framework that does not encourage individual efforts at innovation.

There are a whole bunch of legal prohibitions that dampen the ability to use many external sources of content, tools and technologies (social media being one example, even Wikipedia being another in some cases) where because of laws like COPPA they’re simply not allowed to use the resources at all.

eLearning, such as the content published to Learning Management Systems, is sometimes not appropriate as a medium (for education that is not factually-based, as an example, like Math, Logic, Science, Grammar). In those cases, even teachers with the acumen to self-publish rarely have the time needed to produce something of quality — and this is, of course, necessitated by the fact that such content must be supported with infrastructure that their students may not have access to.
Though the statistics are improving, there is no guarantee that students have access to the Internet at home, which in many urban and rural districts makes any form of distributed learning problematic. Even if there is access, the technology used to access it must allow learners to experience such content, and content primarily authored with Flash (as one prevailing example) may not be available to play on mobile phones, which statistics show is how more and more learners and their families are accessing the Internet.

This list is not meant to be inclusive, nor are my points without some contention or debate. I mean to illustrate that there are a number of factors (legal, economic, logistic, socio-cultural, technical acumen) that make eLearning as a general field difficult for many educators to leverage.

There is work being done on a number of fronts to bridge this gap in the US, and it merits repeating here:

There is a National Educational Technology Plan (http://www.ed.gov/technology/net…) released by the US Department of Education that is definitely worth the read, as it builds out on a few points that were addressed in the National Broadband Plan (http://www.broadband.gov/plan/) set forward by no less than the Federal Communications Commission (Federal Communications Commission).

Specifically, in the NETP, I’ve been involved with the Federal Learning Registry (http://www.learningregistry.org) program that will improve overall access to a wealth of eLearning from a large number of accredited institutions.

There has been a significant amount of money pooled for Community Colleges in the US to overhaul their ability to scale educational efforts within their communities, improve adult education and purchase eLearning content (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_pr…).

There is another program I’m involved with through Advanced Distributed Learning that focuses on new and emerging interoperability challenges in promotion of “learning experiences” that cross systems in formal, informal and social ways, both facilitated and self-directed (https://sites.google.com/a/adlne…).

There are also a number of efforts by interoperability groups like IMS (http://www.imsglobal.org/), AICC (http://aicc.org/joomla/dev/), LETSI (http://www.letsi.org/) as well as groups like ISTE (http://www.iste.org/welcome.aspx) and JISC (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/) — and many others that I’m still finding out about.

This is a good question and it represents one of a set of Wicked Problems around education and learning, generally.