This is certainly an issue that has been discussed a lot. Do a search for "drop the e" elearning and you'll get 74 results, but there are literally thousands more out there. Including an earlier article from CLO itself: What's in a Name? and a post by me: What to Call Ourselves and Our Industry?
The E-Learning Industry Group is now the European Learning Industry Group, a change that reflects a shift within the organization itself, as well as within the learning industry.
“The term ‘e-learning’ has been overused,” said Joe Hegarty, Intel Innovation Centres director of business operations. “Technology is now clearly embedded in all modern learning solutions.”
I definitely sympathize with the sentiment about dropping the "e" from eLearning because we are really focused on the same problem as people who are involved in learning - and likely they use digital technologies (the "e" part) to accomplish parts of that.
However, I'm still with B.J. that it's still helpful to have a term for the fact that we are discussing the use of the digital technologies. So, it's still helpful to me to use the "e".
I really think there's a lot more to this question these days. Take a look back at my post: More on Personal Learning Environments. There I discuss a post by Ray Sims where he makes the point that we are converging on solutions that:
combine learning AND doing.Certainly, my environments are combined. Am I learning right now or doing. Both. And I would say the concepts of Personal Knowledge Management, personal information management, Performance Support tools, ePerformance, Productivity Systems, etc. are not that far away. Really, once you get to information and doing, you pretty much are talking about everything an information worker does.
Clark Quinn and I had a conversation about this issue back in December 2006. And we lamented that we don't really have a good term to describe the broader range of systems that we work on. I tend to get involved when there's opportunity to do something more creative or interesting with technology that goes beyond what is often labeled as "eLearning."
For example, one system we built took customer satisfaction scores already being collected by the organization, combined it with management best practices, to form an action plan. There's was almost no "eLearning" - really these were tools. It took a sophisticated person in the organization to know how to cross boundaries (Operations, Marketing/Survey Research, Training, HR) to get it to happen. And at the end of the day, I would claim this was much more eManagement than eLearning. It really aimed at helping managers understand what they needed to accomplish, create a plan to accomplish it, get buy-in from others around the plan, track the plan, get conversations to happen around the plan in an on-going fashion. Basically, if you had coaches or good managers, they would be doing this in an ad hoc fashion.
What do you call this?
After watching the video yesterday of Everything is Miscellaneous, I find myself questioning the value of trying to define terms. At the same time, terminology in some form (e.g., tags) is critical to help us understand where things fit. For example, what conference should I go to where I would find people who create similar kinds of solutions or who are interested in working together on this kind of solution? It would be great if there was an accepted term because likely I could find the conference.
Clark and I are still struggling with these questions as are many, many other people. Likely there are no simple answers, but finding how to discuss these things, making sense of them is important for us to be able to explain what it is we do.