All you need to know about elearning?

Read/Write Web (an excellent source of information on all web 2.0 tools) has its latest piece on e-learning, with e-Learning 2.0: All You Need to Know. One thing I like about these articles is that they don’t come from the e-learning profession, so they really represent client or learner opinions. The article itself covers a few tools, like Elgg, ChinesePod and Google Apps for Education, as well as the more traditional Blackboard LMS.

It’s a good overview and asks for more feedback from readers. I find the ensuing comments more interesting than the article.

For instance, “One common denominator of these e-learning apps is the inordinate focus on the ‘e’ and not so much on the ‘learning.’ ELGG, Sakai, and others are outstanding products to be sure, but they only provide a framework — so where does the learning take place?

If this question appeared on one of several edublogs, there would be lots of opinions expressed, as well as helpful pointers. My own response is that any technology that we use for learning is a framework and that learning occurs within individuals and often as a result of social interactions between people. Learning does not happen inside the technology.

Another comment, “What we need now are the tools to join up the wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc in a way that the old LMS systems would.” I’m sure that many in our field (including me) would suggest that “small pieces loosely joined” is a good thing and that we already have the glue that can join the tools – RSS.

And another comment, “Personalized learning is a wonderful idea, but what we need are clear standards that will enable all of us who have laboriously built learning management systems to integrate content from publishers.” I am sure that this could fill a few pages of commentary from my colleagues around the world. We could always discuss the history and details of SCORM to cure anyone of insomnia.

My final comment on all of this is that almost any technology can be a learning technology. It’s how it’s used, not what is used. What’s the difference between a conference room and a classroom? What is the difference between a CMS and an LCMS? Mostly branding, I would say. This is one reason that I’m keen on non-educational tools (SNS, wikis, blogs, social bookmarks) in that they are not constrained by some pre-conceived notions about learning. I can use these tools for instruction or for guided study or for discovery learning, just as the same physical classroom can be alternately an exciting learning environment or a prison cell.

8 Responses to “All you need to know about elearning?”

  1. Dave F.

    Learning does not happen inside the technology.

    Good to hang over the vendor area at a conference. Or above your desk.

    Years ago, the late Claude Lineberry gave a rousing presentation to the ISPI Potomac Chapter. He showed some transparencies (I said it was years ago), then sketched something on a flipchart.

    Interrupting himself, he said, “Notice — this is now multimedia.”

    Claude also said, back when everyone was attaching the platter-sized laser disks to IBM PCs to create “learning stations,” “CBT isn’t the answer. CBT is a question.”

  2. Karyn Romeis

    “My own response is that any technology that we use for learning is a framework and that learning occurs within individuals and often as a result of social interactions between people. Learning does not happen inside the technology.”

    Please come with me to my next client meeting and tell them this – I have tried and failed!

  3. Harold

    “The principal difference between a salesman and a consultant is that a salesman believes ‘the customer is always right’. But a consultant is paid to tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. People either love or hate a consultant.”

    As a consultant, your job is say the stuff that those inside the organisation cannot say. Of course, that can result in fewer clients, as I know too well.

  4. Dave F.

    Peter Block in Flawless Consulting identifies three roles that consultants choose (or that clients choose for them):

    The Expert — the client has neither time nor expertise. You, the consultant, find out what’s wrong, then fix it.

    The Pair of Hands — the client believes he understands the problem and its causes, knows what he wants done. You, the consultant, do what the client tells you to.

    The Collaborative Role — the consultant applies his skill to helping the manager solve probelms (rather than solving them for the manager.

    This post was a good nudge for me to revisit Block, who makes a lot of sense and understands a lot of nuance.

  5. Brent Schlenker

    Consider what Dr. Conrad Gottfredson calls the
    “Five Moments of Learning Need” below:
    1. When Learning for the First Time
    2. When Wanting to Learn More
    3. When Trying to Remember
    4. When Things Change
    5. When Something Goes Wrong

    Karyn and all – Perhaps this would help. This isn’t eLearning jargon voodoo. Its plain english that even execs, or clients, will understand. I think if we show the connections between these 5 items and Learning2.0 we will begin to see doors opening instead of closing.

    I always want to point out some of my own presetations on RSS. My schtick is this – RSS: The New Learning Pipeline. Web2.0 enables content consumption, creation, and delivery already. So why is it that so many have such a difficult time seeing that designing for these technologies is a good thing. Its not just that these tools exist, but the potential is in what they allow us to DO. Its up to US the designers to design learning that includes utilizes this new web framework to our advantage.

    The last thing I want to see is is an LMS vendor recreating Facebook. Create an LMS that works WITH a Facebook APP, Twitter, wikipedia, etc.???
    Now you’ve got my attention.

    thanks for letting me ramble here.


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