eLearning is dead, long live eLearning

Following up on a theme I’ve spoken to a few people about recently is the phrase “eLearning is dead, long live eLearning”.

I’ve long believed that what we have all thought of as eLearning (from the academic perspective, not commercial) has since become part and parcel of the way we teach face-to-face students;

  • We use wikis and blogs as part of the classroom activity, as well as for online students who never meet,
  • We use social media like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, and the rest, to engage the students where they live (and include them in the lecture and seminars),
  • We use our presentations in the classroom that are loaded to SlideShare, and the students listen and make notes, then go and read the presentation again online later,
  • We are recording lectures and seminars, using tools like Echo360 and Camtasia, to keep a record of both the content but also to make it available for recap and revision purposes – this was originally used as the only way to deliver the materials to online students, and
  • We encourage the students to use email for contact with us (personal reasons) and Discussion Boards for support, subject-specific activities, FAQs, etc (again, online and face-to-face students use the same tools now).

These are all tools and activities that were once used solely to engage and encourage geographically¬†disparate¬†¬†students, but are now being increasingly used for campus-based students, often in a way that can reduce the amount of contact time (especially necessary with large cohorts, even more so when you don’t have the physical room space to accommodate all the students at once, there this reduced the need to repeat the lecture) but increase the quality of tutor-contact time the students have.

So, if eLearning is dead, why do I say long live eLearning? Simple really, all I’m referring to is what we used to think of eLearning is out of date, but we now have a whole new concept of what eLearning is and what we can use it for. It is used in lots of different situations to enhance the student learning experience, to enhance the amount of time a tutor can spend with groups of, or individual, students; this new approach is exciting, innovative, ground-breaking, technologically challenging, and really damn good fun – all you have to do is see what some of the brilliant minds are doing by following some key people on Twitter (there are many – drop me a line if you want some names).

I also found this presentation on SlideShare from Rani H Gill on ‘There’s already an E in eLearning’ which helps to explain where I’m coming from:

View more presentations from Rani H Gill.

I am happy to receive your thought on this idea; have we seen the concept of eLearning become mainstream so there is little to distinguish purely online eLearning techniques from what we do with campus-based and classroom-based students? Please leave comment below and join in the conversation.