So what *is* eLearning? March 11, 2014Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings, TELIC.
“… the use of new multimedia technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to resources and services as well as remote exchanges and collaboration”
I’ve now been in my new post of Head of eLearning for a month. It was created as part of a restructuring process designed to marry the changing needs of our school with changes in the provision of technology to support learning. Whilst I welcomed the the emphasis of my role morphing to one putting ‘learning’ at the centre, the actual term ‘eLearning’ sat less comfortably with me. The reason is the historical baggage that eLearning drags along with it. A quick Internet trawl offers:
Put simply, the definition of e-learning is training delivered via digital technology in order to help us learn.
Quite simply, e-learning is electronic learning, and typically this means using a computer to deliver part, or all of a course whether it’s in a school, part of your mandatory business training or a full distance learning course.
eLearning is electronic learning, in which the learner uses a computer to learn a task, skill, or process. It is also referred to as computer-based training, web-based training, and online learning.
Increasingly however, the expression ‘technology enhanced learning’ is being substituted for eLearning and I feel semantics are crucial here. Rather than trying to envisage a new and perhaps distinct form of learning – eLearning, we retain the central focus on learning, but indicate that technology brings something new to the table. Technology provides additionality, opening new possibilities. In effect, the ‘e’ no longer stands for electronic, but enhanced … which set me thinking. Could the ‘e’ actually stand for anything else? Are there other terms beginning with ‘e’ which also describe how learning might be affected by technology? I’ve often heard people say how technology ‘enriches’ the learning process and how it can ‘extend’ learning, so suitably inspired, I started listing a few other ‘e’s, which eventually led to:
Having proposed and defined each of the terms, I then started to provide an illustrative example of each … but pulled up short. Rather than specify examples taken from my experience, I thought it might be more meaningful for anyone interested to interrogate the terms for themselves. What do the terms mean for them, in their contexts? So at this point, I’ll throw myself on the mercy of the crowds. What terms have I included which might seem a little too contrived? What terms have I missed? What examples can you point to in which learning has been enhanced, enriched … or any of the others?