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Sunday, June 24, 2007

eLearning 2.0 - An Immediate, Important Shift

I just finished reading a blog post on Read/Write Web - eLearning 2.0 - All You Need to Know. Normally, I find the content on R/WW to be pretty good, but this time, it left me a bit flat.

I'm a big believer in eLearning 2.0 and it's interesting to R/WW's take on eLearning 2.0. But the title - "everything you need to know" was a particularly bad choice of words. As you read through the post, you really don't get any sense for what eLearning 2.0 is all about. They talk about things like Nuuvo (more or less an LMS), Google Apps (online applications) as examples of eLearning 2.0 applications. Without some explanation of how they might be used in an eLearning 2.0 way this probably hurts more than helps.

What might be more valuable to the readers of R/WW is to focus on the fairly fundamental shift represented by eLearning 2.0 which is very similar to the shift represented by Web 2.0. After that shift is better explained, then look at how different tools and systems might support people who are making the shift (learners) or people who are responsible for helping others make the shift (corporate training / educators). At the end of the day, eLearning 2.0 is much more than would be indicated by reading about the applications listed in this post.

But what really got to me about reading the post by R/WW was that it was easy to read it and come away with a belief that eLearning 2.0 is all about adoption of these applications. Which to many people equates to "it's about them."

And that's a problem. The most important thing to understand about eLearning 2.0 is that it is an immediately applicable and important shift in learning that applies right here and right now for most knowledge workers. Adopting a practice like blogging as a personal learning and networking tool or adopting Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools as a means to support collaborative work teams is something that is an immediate and important shift for knowledge workers - and that's you!

The bottom line is that eLearning 2.0 is not about a bunch of applications, it's about adopting practices that leverage these applications to support work and learning in new, powerful ways.


Harold Jarche said...

I know that learning does not happen inside the technology. But this post is informative because it does not come from an edublogger. Perhaps this perspective is the result of years of e-learning companies pitching their wares. Our field is now seen as just a subset of software application development.

If all we talk about are LMS's, then people think that's what learning is about. The R/WW article is probably quite indicative of how most people perceive the e-learning field.

Anonymous said...

"If all we talk about are LMS's, then people think that's what learning is about."

Harold, I think you're pointing to a fundamental issue here, which is "framing." Elearning to this point HAS been about particular tools and LMS's, so that's the mental frame that people work with when they hear the term. I think we're going to have to come up with a different term to describe this next, more personal iteration of elearning and then "brand" it in a way that focuses on the learning aspect over the tool aspect. I can't say that I know what to call that (obviously PLE is one option), but whatever term we choose, we'll need to be looking at serious, focused branding of that term so that the mental frame that's created isn't just another version of LMS.

And Tony, I agree with you about the R/W article. I had a similar reaction when I saw it last week.

Tony Hirst said...

"The bottom line is that eLearning 2.0 is not about a bunch of applications, it's about adopting practices that leverage these applications to support work and learning in new, powerful ways."

Agreed - though I think it's also about developing "literacies" in the rich media we are exposed to everyday on the web and elsewhere, and that we can now *all* consider using ourselves...

(I just ranted about this in an ignore at our peril post!)


Karl Kapp said...

I agree with Michele's comment about "framing" which Harold hits upon as well. Is the term "Learning 2.0" really good for our field as we should really focus on the learning aspects and not the technology aspects. Most of what we can do with technology we could do without it only on a much smaller scale.

Learning can, is and should be, in many cases achieved without technology. But if "outsiders" see us as LMS or 2.0 folks then we are missing the boat completely, we really need to focus the perception of what we do on the learning and not the "e" or the 2.0 aspects...boy do I sound like a broken record...I know this conversation has happened before...

Unknown said...

Re framing is Vital. Seven years ago I started a UK company that went rapidly bust. I tried with others to scream from the rooftops that eLearning (1) should not be about the technology but about individuals learning collaboratively using suitable on and off line tools. We were drowned out by LMS salesmen, those who wanted a quick cheap fix and those who wanted eLearning to be some universal panacea. I do not think that the battle is over by any means in spite of the huge strides made since.

The term "eLearning 2.0" has the virtue of being concise even if it carries too many obsolete associations. We tried to use the term BCL for Blended Collaborative Learning to indicate what we were about because it seemed vital to distance ourselves from the page turners and other oversimplified traps. It did not work for us.

So perhaps in places such as this a new search for better terminology would pay dividends. Here the visionaries* could find the language needed to communicate not just to the "Early Adopters" but to the late comers as well.

Note* Visionaries = you lot reading this :-)

Tony Karrer said...

This is a really helpful set of thoughts. I've been grappling with a bunch of thoughts around how to refer to what's going on right now in this world that I refer to as eLearning 2.0. Is there another term that should be used? Learning 2.0 worries me because it sounds like it's a theory of how the brain works or something like that. Actually anything having the term "learning" in it might be problematic, because a lot of what makes eLearning 2.0 interesting is that it involves knowledge work and touches work that is happening in lots of other places.

So what should this be called?

On the systems side, I called it a Personal Work and Learning Environment (playing off a PLE, but adding the work factor). Of course, I previously added knowledge in there because it also really is a PKM system.

test said...

Tony, Your note on making a fundamental shift in the way we think is on target. Oftentimes, the software side, as in e-Learning 2.0, LMSs, etc. overshadows the accompanying themes in human behavior. We leapfrog from technology to another technology, failing to recognize the behaviors that the software supports or inhibits. When Web 3.0 and e-Learning 3.0 come, many would still miss the underlying behaviors that must exist to make these tools (or why these tools) succeed. These tools merely support preferred behaviors, not create them.

I share your concern. e-Learning 2.0 focuses on technology -- which is not what it is, really. Since the early days of e-learning and CBTs, I've struggled on how to capture the essence. And this is what I arrived at so far (and continuing to search).

In my view, I observed that the underlying themes or at least the promise and potential of e-Learning 1.0, 2.0, LMSs, and KMs are providing people the opportunity to behave and say "I am learning and working my way." The key words for me are "My Way." It may mean contacting others, learning, sharing, doing work .. but the greatest contribution of the technology is "I can do it my way" or "Learning My Way". I like this because it allows me to accommodate people at their own levels of self-awareness and skills. Some may be less collaborative, but more quite observers, but they do their jobs and learn. Others, which seem to be a dominant apparent behavior in social networking, are more highly interactive. "Learning My Way" is more encompassing, and is not dictated by the attributes of the software.

Although we now focus on e-Learning 2.0, I had the same problems with e-Learning 1.0. Many of the developers, instructional designers, or training leaders failed to recognize the underlying theme and the preferred behavior. I called this behavior
e-Learning Behaviors. The central theme is "learner control."

Tony, please keep up your blog. Your thoughts are always provocative...