What is eLearning?

by Carol Daunt, LearnTel http://www.learntel.com.au

I thought it would be interesting to kick off our blog discussions by addressing the issue of what exactly IS eLearning. Given that we can’t seem to agree on the spelling (Elearning, eLearning, E-learning, e-Learning…..) I don’t know what hope we have of reaching a consensus on a definition.

My personal beef is that eLearning has become synonymous with ‘online learning’. Now I thought maybe it was just that I had mis-interpreted what ‘e’ meant, but I take it to mean any form of electronic communication – thus including everything from a PDA to a super computer and involving all of the telecommunications options in between.

So I went for a web search for some higher authority on this. Here’s what I found:

A dictionary search came back with: “No entries found that match Elearning. Here is a list of similar words: Alarming” Mmmm – is there a message there??

Not to be deterred I searched further. The following completely subjective selections (chosen solely to support my argument) were found:

The people at LineZine have already done the work for me – and obviously faced the same dilemma about the spelling. Here’s their overview

“E-Learning. eLearning. “e”Learning. elearning.

However you want to write it (we use “eLearning” and “elearning”), on the Internet and in the popular press, definitions of elearning abound. Here are several we found:

“The convergence of the Internet and learning, or Internet-enabled learning.”

“The use of network technologies to create, foster, deliver, and facilitate learning, anytime and anywhere.”

“The delivery of individualized, comprehensive, dynamic learning content in real time, aiding the development of communities of knowledge, linking learners and practitioners with experts.”

“A phenomenon that delivers accountability, accessibility, and opportunity allowing people and organizations to keep up with the rapid changes that define the Internet world.”

“A force that gives people and organizations the competitive edge to allow them to keep ahead of the rapidly changing global economy.”

If designed and delivered correctly, elearning is and does all these things. The problem with most interpretations of this e-word, however, is that they focus too heavily on the “e,” the technical side, less so on the second part of the word: learning…..”

I couldn’t agree more. Go to their website to read more http://www.linezine.com/elearning.htm
Then I came across some interesting thoughts from Derek Stockley who runs a consultancy & training business in Victoria. ELearning is:

“The delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means. E-learning involves the use of a computer or electronic device (e.g. a mobile phone) in some way to provide training, educational or learning material.

E-learning can involve a greater variety of equipment than online training or education, for as the name implies, “online” involves using the Internet or an Intranet. CD-ROM and DVD can be used to provide learning materials.”

Yes – I’m beginning to like Derek a lot – even though I don’t know who he is. Read more at his website: http://derekstockley.com.au/home.html

Finally I hit upon Kevin Kruse who is the founder of e-LearningGuru.com. He’s assembled a glossary that contains the following definition for eLearning:

“Broad definition of the field of using technology to deliver learning and training programs. Typically used to describe media such as CD-ROM, Internet, Intranet, wireless and mobile learning. Some include Knowledge Management as a form of e-learning. Took awhile for the right term to come about, circa 1995 it was all called “Internet based Training”, then “Web-based Training” (to clarify that delivery could be on the Inter- or Intra-net), then “Online Learning” and finally e-learning, adopting the in vogue use of “e-” during the dot com boom. The “e-” breakthrough enabled the industry to raise hundreds of millions from venture capitalists who would invest in any industry that started with this magic letter.”

Read more at: http://www.e-learningguru.com/gloss.htm

So…over to you. What does eLearning mean to you?