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Balancing Technologies, e-Learning, and Leadership

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  • Picture of Dr Agata Lo Tauro FRSA
    Dr Agata Lo Tauro FRSA
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Dr Agata Lo Tauro investigates "meta-learning" and lifelong learning.

The aim of this investigation is to identify the pedagogical and organizational reasons that legitimize a leader to implement innovative processes in educational institutions in order to favor the "personalization" of learning and the full realization of continuous training related to organizational flexibility and online training analyzing the prospects of the Distributed Simulation (DSim).

In international literature there are several contributions dedicated to the analysis of the conditions of development of educational institutions through Novel Information and Communication Technology (NICT). Reference is made to the development of general operating principles of organizations on an international scale. These are scientific analysis that highlight different perspectives of investigation of a complex phenomenon such as the formation of human resources with the help of new technologies that operate in educational organizations, specific to our investigation. What emerges is the model of an organization in continuous propensity towards lifelong learning, together with the value of designing adequate management tools and pursuing strategies. In the specific case of the investigation in question, the element of human / professional competence is valued as a condition of success for the promotion of governance systems (institutional analysis), management (managerial analysis) and leadership (analysis of the behavioral and accountability system) adapted to the individual and contextual characteristics of the individual organizations in the educational field, and not only. More precisely, the management of human capital for the promotion of value and the pursuit of strategies becomes the object of attention to identify and interpret the critical aspects of the organizations that are set in a perspective of renewal.

Any technologically assisted learning or teaching pertains to the sphere of digital or electronic learning or teaching. But we will say more: the "development of training processes" supported by Novel Information Communication technologies (NICT) that also pertain to the sphere of Distributed Simulation (DSim) refers to the concept of "education / training" placed in close connection with interacting subsystems, executed on hosts connected in LAN or WAN type networks, fixed, wireless and new implementations. In reality it is a "multi-disciplinary" approach that involves various sectors including computer systems analysis, new software design methodologies implemented with the aid of new simulation systems (eg object-oriented, multilevel, multi-resolution simulations , etc.), within heterogeneous systems.

Leaders and staff in general who are interested in implementing new technologies within the training offer of a public or private institution must guarantee ways within which ICT can evolve over the course of the years in relation to new information and computer technologies, to the new philosophy of web and DSim systems. In fact, the term web learning was introduced to indicate a particular type of teaching on the web, which accentuates the "network" aspect of learning, rather than the now obvious aspect of pure electronic or "virtual" component. It has therefore moved from the very first on-line platforms featuring closed platforms to new web-based platforms with high-speed Internet access, WiFi network and wired network, Internet telephones, VolP, smartphones, low cost wireless sensor products, cloud hedges (also for people with Special Educational Needs) etc. The sudden succession of different technological solutions highlights how these changes are only partly related to the technological market. It is also the training practices that test the different technologies (platforms, learning objects, blogs, wikis, learning artefact, iPad, etc.) by experimenting with different "educational applications".

In reality, the Internet and / or web component and the presence of a "technological platform" specifies how a Learning Management System distinguishes e-learning from other versions of distance learning, such as Computer Based Training (CBT) and the procedures of monitoring and tracking of users distinguish it from Web Based Training (WBT). Ultimately, if the CBT represents the "first generation" of distance education and WBT is the second. Online teaching can be considered the third generation (or evolution) that is also oriented towards new DSim implementations. It is also possible to speak of training processes defined as "mixed" (or blended learning) in which the online component is combined with traditional training (classroom work, telephone support, workshops, seminars, etc.). These experiences represent a challenge for international education systems, just to give a few examples: this "involves a necessary change in the vision of educational institutions" by organizations that transmit notions to the new generations that favor the ability to build knowledge along the whole arc of life.

The new DSim implementations therefore take on a propulsive role with respect to the transformation process, which can be summarized in the passage from the transmission (that is, of the discursive production) of knowledge to the construction (ie the active production) of knowledge. With a slightly bolder neologism it would be possible to use the term "gnoseology" for today's society, that is, mastery of knowledge and knowledge capable of legitimizing and innovating leadership within educational institutions.

It is therefore necessary to "learn also to learn" following the concept of "meta-learning" which is concretely declined for the leader, and not only, in lifelong learning forms, namely lifelong education.

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