blogger counters

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Interview with Garth Wigle (New Series - Life in the E-Learning Organization)

Welcome to Life in the E-Learning Organization, a series of interviews with e-learning and distance professionals. This week's interview is with Garth Wigle, who is involved in training for Canada's air navigation systems.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?
Garth Wigle. I am an education specialist with Canada’s air navigation service provider looking for new ways to deliver training to a workforce of approximately 5000 people that is deployed throughout the country from coast to coast to coast. I initially became involved in e-learning as a way to continue my own edification while working shifts and traveling extensively.

I completed my Master of Arts via a combination of face-to-face and asynchronous e-learning. I also now facilitate online in a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education program with an Ontario university.

As a result of these activities, I suddenly became the “e-learning expert” in the company, hence my current focus on locating and implementing appropriate new learning technologies for training air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, and electronics technologists. My most recent project has been the acquisition and implementation of a virtual classroom platform to allow us to engage in synchronous e-learning activities.

How did you get interested in distance education?
My first foray into distance education was 30 years ago via a “snail mail” correspondence course as part of a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.
The program was completed largely via audiocassette and mailed in assignments. The only face-to-face component would have been the required lab work. Needless to say, the long lag time between submitting assignments and receiving feedback made it difficult to stay motivated to complete the work in a timely fashion. With the advent of the Internet and the near real time communication capability of email, distance learning became a much more engaging prospect for me. Since 2000, I have garnered considerable experience both as a learner and as a facilitator in asynchronous e-learning environments.

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?
I am becoming intrigued with the idea of mobile learning: using personal audio/video devices, cell phones, PDAs, etc. to deliver just in time knowledge nuggets to people as they need them.

What is your favorite technology?
At the moment, I would say my favourite technology is the virtual classroom as it allows us to combine the personal interaction of face-to-face learning events with many of the advantages of computer-based training (e.g. reduced travel costs, engaging interactivity).

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning?
In my asynchronous work I generally use assigned readings, asynchronous discussion boards, assignments, and some small group work. In the computer-based training or synchronous e-learning packages I use a combination of assigned readings, audio-visual aids, application sharing, polling, quizzes, group work, assignments, and discussions.

How do you use textbooks in e-learning?

For me, textbooks have always been additional resources in any learning environment whether online or face-to-face. In the e-learning environment textbooks may be either hard copy or electronic, but they are still resources for additional information beyond what is provided in the lesson itself. They are one place learners may go to help them make sense of the new knowledge or skill they are learning.

What is your favorite quote? or, what's a book that caught your eye recently?

My favourite quote, and one that is perhaps foundational to my personal philosophy as an adult educator, is from Einstein: “I never teach my pupils. I only try to provide an environment in which they can learn.”

Blog Archive