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The Elephant in the Room

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

The parable of the elephant and the blind men may be extended to the impact of edtech in education.

Your feed is flooded with the “top 5 trends in learning and education”.

Your inbox with sales pitches of EdTech products claiming to be the best, the latest, the one solution to end your search (even if you don’t know what you are looking for).

You try one, you try another; it’s not earth-shattering, life-altering, or as revolutionary as they claimed it would be.

The result? Disillusionment.

​Before you toss aside e-learning as an unnecessary expense, let’s address the elephant in the room.

The elephant in the room?

Context. Learners’ needs.

Understand the big picture

Just like the elephant, education is a complex and multifaceted field (lifelong journey, might we add) that encompasses a wide range of pedagogical approaches, technologies, and learning contexts. It is important to understand that e-learning is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different approaches may be more effective for different schools, and their students and teachers.

Context is King

Implementing off-the-shelf learning products in a school without considering the context of the school and its students can lead several problems.

When evaluating a product, consider the following:

  • Does it align with the curriculum?

  • Does it subscribe to the pedagogical approach of the school?

  • Does it cater to the unique needs and abilities of the students?

  • Has it been tested or validated in the specific context of the school?

  • Have you charted which student learning outcomes it is intended to improve?

If most, some, or any of your product evaluation questions are in the negative, it might be time to engage an internal or external party to assess your school’s learning needs.

Acknowledge diverse perspectives

In the story, the blind men each had a different perspective on the elephant. By talking to each other and pooling their perspectives, they were able to understand the whole elephant. Similarly, it is important to seek out diverse perspectives and engage with practitioners and researchers in the field to understand the complexity of e-learning.

Needs analysis is like bad medicine Bad medicine is what we need!

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