E-learning, eLearning, online learning, digital learning ” what’s the difference and what does it all really mean?
Elearning means different things to different people. Put simply, E-learning, elearning, online learning and digital learning are all synonymous terms for educational concepts delivered through digital means. We use these terms interchangeably to describe leveraging the latest advances in technology to create meaningful, engaging and fun educational experiences that maximize an individual’s ability to learn, retain and apply new knowledge.
Just like email has evolved from very simple beginnings, online learning is doing the same. We founded Learnkit in 2011 out of the desire to create learning that met our standards of what good online learning should be. When we were building our first online certificate we started to research the market and quickly discovered that most of what passed for elearning was simply a collection of information that was moved online and slapped with an elearning sticker. This often took the shape of powerpoint slides with little to no consideration for a true pedagogical foundation.
We’ve seen a variety of combinations of “elearning solutions that either utilize poor instructional design, lack deep learning theory, or take traditional linear lectures and textbooks and place them online in the same format. This does not fit our definition of elearning. Elearning, that is done well, is more than taking traditional learning and digitizing it. We believe that modern learning technology has opened the doors to a whole new way to consume knowledge.
In one of our favourite TED Talks by Richard Culatta, he suggests how we should use technology to reimagine learning ” not just to digitize traditional learning. Culatta’s inspiring talk proposes that a shift to technology enabled personalized learning is the key to overcoming problems in education today.
In his talk, Culatta identifies three challenges of traditional learning:
- Treats all learners the same despite unique needs and challenges.
- Holds the schedule constant and allows the learning to vary.
- Performance data comes too late to be useful.
We now have the opportunity to use technology to do entirely new things that were not possible before. It is not that elearning is better than traditional learning ” it is just different. Taking a deeper look into the advantages of elearning over instructor led training, there are many things you simply cannot achieve in a traditional classroom model that are now possible through a digital medium. Technology enables real-time feedback, allows us to adjust the pace, gives learners agency, creates creators and enables mass customization.
The key to great elearning, is to use advances in technology and pedagogical innovations to build new and better ways for people to learn. Elearning is about creating vibrant, robust, immersive and enjoyable experiences that engage learners, and optimize different learning styles. Through leveraging the latest in technology we are able to measure retention and application of knowledge. Elearning also affords us the ability to report on learning outcomes and correlate them with business results. What’s more, asynchronous elearning allows us to take the best learning experience, endlessly scale it, and make it globally available.
Just as we’ve experienced with email and the rise of digital in other aspects of our lives, the evolution of elearning will continue to transform the way people learn. At Learnkit, it is our core focus to continue to push the boundaries and redefine what is possible through digital learning.
In determining your own definition of elearning, here are 3 questions to ask yourself:
- Reflect on your most recent experience with elearning ” what did you like or dislike?
- How could a personalized digital experience support or enhance your existing learning initiatives?
- What possibilities does modern digital learning create for new learning opportunities in your organization?
Share your thoughts and answers to these three questions in the comments below. We would love to hear about your experience, opinion and insight.
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