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Paradigm Shifts in Global Higher Education and e-learning: An ecological perspective

Special Issue: Paradigm Shifts in Global Higher Education and eLearning

By Aras Bozkurt, Amy Hilbelink / May 2019

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"Ancora Imparo" - I’m still learning

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Mankind has been witnessing significant changes as a result of innovative online and offline technologies; education is not immune to these changes. Knowledge is the new capital in the fourth industrial era and has the power and the ability to shape and direct the world as we know. There is a paradigm shift in teaching and learning processes, and it is our responsibility to understand it in order to describe a better future for the next generations.

We live in a networked society where information and communication technologies emerged as an essential, and in many cases, an indispensable component that has penetrated our lives and further triggered and increased the paradigm shift. The amount of knowledge production has more than doubled in only a few years and that change in knowledge production has gained a momentum, which requires all of us to develop new skills to survive, and maybe continue our evolution not biologically, but cognitively.

The new ecology has online and offline dimensions, and the survival and sustainability of this hybrid ecology depend on still learning approaches. In this regard, higher education as well as other educational institutions, educational spaces, and platforms that deliver learning content have a greater responsibility than ever. e-Learning oriented solutions emerge as a viable solution as they support not only ubiquitous learning opportunities but also meet the demand and quest for knowledge from lifelong learners, while also reducing time and space constraints in educational processes.

In this context, perceiving e-Learning spaces as ecologies is of utmost importance. Accordingly, e-Learning ecologies are the spaces where we socially interact with living and nonliving entities, project ourselves with digital identities, and, therefore, silently declare these spaces are beyond synthetic binary digital structures, yet an extension of organic structures. Taking this view into account, we further acknowledge we can form and develop communities in these spaces to enhance our learning experiences. Through an ecological view, we are able to interpret online spaces as adaptive, self-developing, and self-organizing spaces where we can collaborate, cooperate, negotiate, create, and share. Such a view also supports the idea that these spaces are complex, chaotic, and the progress is nonlinear. Similarly, our offline world has the same characteristics and, thus, learning is nonlinear, connectivist, and emergent. In such a space that provides similar experiences, we have the opportunity to loudly articulate “I am still learning,” where e-Learning appears as a solution to enhance and enrich our learning experiences.

In these digital spaces, there are hard and soft technologies invented by us. And in some instances, we welcome these technologies with great enthusiasm, recognizing them as a silver bullet or a magic wand that will change everything suddenly and help us to create a utopian world. However, the history of mankind repeats itself and has taught us technology is a means rather than an end. Therefore, we have to put the human in the center of our online ecology rather than putting technology blindly in the center and avoid producing hypes that might mislead us. Finally, living and nonliving entities have a symbiotic relationship both in offline and online worlds. For instance, we interact in offline worlds with individuals, animals, pen, paper, books, and many other entities in our learning processes; similarly, we interact in online worlds with codes, tags, and digitally presented identities. In short, they are not two different things, but an extension of one another.

Based on the above-explained thoughts, in this Special Issue of eLearn Magazine, we intend to contribute to the knowledge progression with articles from diverse points of view with a hope to better understand paradigm shifts that are happening by the advent of online technologies. Last but not least, we say again, we are still e-Learning!

About the Guest Editors

Aras Bozkurt is a researcher in the Department of Distance Education at Anadolu University, Turkey. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in distance education. He conducts empirical studies on online learning through resorting to critical theories including connectivism, rhizomatic learning, and heutagogy. He is also interested in emerging research paradigms including social network analysis, sentiment analysis, and data mining.

Amy Hilbelink has been with Laureate International Education for five years in a number of increasing leadership roles. For the past three years, she has been working with Institutions in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and South African regions, focusing on developing effective online curriculum with an emphasis on faculty excellence, student preparedness, and outcomes-based curriculum and assessment. Her primary focus is as provost for a newly created Middle Eastern higher-ed institution.

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  • Mon, 18 Nov 2019
    Post by Mahendiran

    WCASET Philippines conference 2020 will explore the new horizon of innovations from distinguished researchers, scientists and eminent authors in academia and industry working for the advancements in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology from all over the world.

  • Fri, 10 May 2019
    Post by Denise D.

    The articles will be published weekly, you can find them here

  • Sat, 04 May 2019
    Post by Khalil ajami

    How can we get the other articles of this special issue?