When Rob Hubbard (Chair of the eLearning Network, UK) was asked this very question he replied:
“EVERYTHING – if you ask some people, NOTHING, some others. First off we were a victim of our own success. eLearning became huge and the course became king. eLearning courses were viewed by some (and still are I suspect) as the pinnacle of what technology can offer learning. I think they have their place but for me eLearning encompasses any form of electronic learning – that is after all what the ‘e’ stands for! When we take into account mobile apps, social learning, simulations, gaming, informal media, screen-casts, 3-D worlds, video and all other lovely stuff we can design for, there is clearly a lot ‘eLearning’ has to offer. My feeling is that there are oceans of untapped potential just waiting to be discovered. The challenge is, to set out on a voyage of discovery takes guts, determination, money and vision … and not all voyages are successful. What should we use as a compass to guide us?”
In an article ‘The Problem With eLearning’ (Croner-i HR, March 2012) our own Judith Christian-Carter wrote:
“There can be no doubt about it, whether through financial necessity or through a genuine desire to help people to learn, the use of eLearning has really taken-off in the last few years. It’s not just large public and corporate organisations that are investing heavily in eLearning, so are small and medium enterprises, as well as many educational sectors. However, as words such as ‘boring’, ‘mundane’, ‘page-turning’, ‘dull’ and even ‘painful’, have also been used over the past few years when mentioning eLearning, a question still remains: is there a problem with eLearning per se or is there a problem with how people see it as a result of having had some bad learning experiences?”
Taking a snapshot of eLearning today (© J Christian-Carter 2012), the picture looks something like this:
- ‘Interactivity’ = the extent to which the learner can interact with the screens/pages or instructor/facilitator
- ‘Linear’ = the learner has to work through all the content and screens in a linear fashion
- ‘Push’ = the content is pushed at the learner
- ‘Pull’ = the learner is allowed to pull the content they want to look at
- ‘Stand-alone’ = can run on a non-networked computer
- ‘Online’ = the computer has to be connected to a server, an intranet or the Internet
- ‘Asynchronous’ = one-way communication predominantly from the computer to the learner
- ‘Synchronous’ = two-way communication in real time
- ‘Social Media tools’ = for forums, chats, blogs and wikis.
Here are some of the current main failings of eLearning as reported by others:
- inappropriate delivery medium
- poor design
- poor treatment
- poor delivery
- poor testing
- inadequate learner support.
So, whether you are a user of eLearning, a supplier, a designer, a developer or someone who commissions eLearning, what do you think? What, exactly, is eLearning good for?
If you need some links to help you, then check these out: