I'm not great at drawing a distinction between TEL, eLearning, ICT, computing, technology etc. so this post has aspects of them all - and the fact that they are all endlessly fascinating and useful. When I first start using computers the thing that appealed most was that they could automatically work out codes and do something with a series of letters or numbers - that you could input an instruction and a task would be carried out - wow, how clever is that. Also that you could create things that look or sound beautiful - again by inputting a series of instructions.
And, if that was not enough, you could find out about practically anything in the whole world and see a picture of it just by typing in a few letters!! Ok, so you've probably got the message by now - technology is a learning experience and learning is a better experience by using technology.
I first started using ICT when I completed my PGCE ICT and then went to teach ICT in a secondary school and sixth form college. It was really good fun as well as lots of hard work teaching ICT even though it was mainly PC based before mobile and gadgets. Despite the bad press lately, some of it justified, about the boringness of ICT in schools there is a lot to be learnt and gained from knowing the basics and building on those basics so that everyone has the know how and the problem solving / thinking skills to be successful. TEL is an enabler - a way of learning that engages students and it's great to help people find out how it can work for them. ICT / computing should have a broad scope so that it appeals to everyone from making video clips of performances to writing code to control robots - it all has value. I still have mixed feelings as to whether it should be taught as a discrete subject.
I then became interested in VLEs and staff training in ICT so moved onto an FE college and worked as an eLearning Manager. The interesting aspect was seeing how the VLE could be used to provide access to learning from a variety of places and times - the 'anytime anyplace' idea. But also how learning resources can be a variety of formats, that it didn't have to be text based in the form of a worksheet, that there could be images and sounds, that it could be dynamic and changing. The VLE developed to include assessment and feedback and a platform for communication through discussion boards and forums and messages and texts and virtual classrooms. My role developed to be Head of Learning Resources (eLearning and Library Services). This opened up lots of opportunities for interacting with students and ensuring that they had access to high quality online learning resources. The major development was the use of mobile technologies - resources that can be accessed in mobile formats and also mobile devices.
The Student Experience is the aspect of learning and student life that interests me the most and I currently work as Student Information Points Manager at a University. The important thing is how information is communicated effectively - how can students access the relevant information in a timely manner in a suitable format?
Personally, I still think ICT/TEL/technology is fascinating and interesting and will continue to be so as it changes and develops. Communication and collaboration using mobile devices is convenient and effective. Learning should take place in formal and informal environments and should be accessible wherever and whenever it is needed or wanted.
Moocs are a mixture, and reflect the advantages and disadvantages of online learning and the the use of TEL - they are easy to access but difficult to understand, they provide an environment for learning but it's sometimes difficult to work out what that learning is, there are numerous opportunities for communications but who are you communicating with and which is the best way to communicate, you can share but is there so much information it is sometimes too much to absorb or even acknowledge. But it offers a place and an opportunity to experiment and reflect.