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Friday, July 13, 2007

eLearning or e-Learning vs. learning

Thanks to Big Dog, Little Dog saw an article/post from Donald Taylor on Training Zone - It's Time to Drop E-Learning - a horrible title given that the author is only calling for dropping the "e" from the front of the term. I found a few things interesting about the article:

I would have to register to leave a comment, thus, I'm posting instead. Likely they won't have trackbacks. So, people who read the article probably won't find this information.

There's been a LOT of discussion around this topic and related topics. While the author cites a few related pieces of information, they don't point to various sources on the same topic and consider what they have to say...

As I said back in May 2007 -
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?

In terms of specific content - Donald argues -
The ‘e’ in e-learning is all about delivery. Gutenberg didn’t rave about the b-learning his printed books provided; I’ve never heard a lecturer enthuse on v-learning for voices, so why the ‘e’? Even as the concept of e-learning was being slowly re-habilitated in the Learning and Development profession, the term itself was still flawed.
And, he's right that the "e" is about delivery. Of course, the terms "email" and "ecommerce" seem to be fine. And these certainly are delivery based terms.

Donald also discusses that eLearning is associated with cost cutting measures. I would agree that we need to move people beyond that. Especially with the potential value offered with the network effects in eLearning 2.0. Just as email and ecommerce open new possibilities, so does eLearning.

Donald tells us:
Too many see e-learning as yesterday’s fad.
I would tend to agree with this, but without another term such as eLearning 2.0 or something like ePerformance to describe the broader mix of solutions, then we are better off trying to refine the meaning of the term than we are to drop the "e" and hope that people understand what we are talking about.

Interestingly, Donald suggests we get rid of the term, but doesn't suggest an alternative. Get people to start using an alternative, and I think you've got something. But just suggesting to get rid of the term is not all that helpful.

6 comments:

Janet Clarey said...

I like multi-channel learning as an alternative term that encompasses everything. The article below is a year old but suggests something like (tongue-in-cheek) 'larning' (no e) like Flickr, Bloggr, Frappr or (the now common) Learning 2.0 (already starting to sound old but again this article is a year old...ancient...practically as old as dirt : )

http://www.infotoday.com/Online/mar06/HomePage.shtml

Perhaps the company I work for could change its name to Brandon Hall Rsarch (rats...2 e's)!

Tony Karrer said...

Janet - I like the idea of multi-channel learning and think it would have been a much better term than "blended learning."

The nice aspect of "channel" is that it does imply that we might have lots of different delivery approaches and it sounds more business oriented - channels are how you reach different customers, partners, stakeholders.

That makes me wonder if maybe there is room for a good new term here?

Josh Gentry said...

I also like multi-channel learning. The best I had come up with was "instruction on demand."

Tom Haskins said...

Tony: After all these months of blogging about learning, I'm now thinking all the terms (elearning, etc) are too vague. I hope in begins to connote people who are pushing content with no sensitivity to learners or evidence-based assessment. When we know the learner, start from their understanding, work with their processes, etc -- I suspect we will speak of "realized insights", "expanded capabilities", "new questions", "active explorations", etc--instead "earning".

sflowers said...

When I was with government a few years ago, I tried to push away from eLearning towards an 'Integrated Learning Deployment Model' that considered that a performance solution could be delivered using any channel:

- Paper based support materials
- Structured OJT
- Live / Virtual Live
- Self-directed
- DVD based EPSS

I listed probably 30 - 40 examples of combinable methods. Everyone in the organization agreed / agrees that we needed to get away from considering eLearning as an isolated solution.

The model hasn't taken hold yet. Outside of government, my former coworkers are now customers. Still working to gain traction this one.

Andrew Pass said...

I just finished writing an article for T.H.E. Journal on the future of distance learning/elearning/online learning. The article will appear in the September issue. Since I'm not allowed to post the article let's just say that it contains the views of numerous experts. I hope that people find it an interesting read.