Thursday, 23 April 2009

What is e-learning?

What is this crazy little thing called e-learning?

· Self-study courses delivered online?
· Self-study courses on DVD or CD-ROM?
· Self-study courses available over a corporate network?
· Online courses interspersed with face-to-face events?
· Tools for electronic performance support?
· Live e-learning events – Webinars?
· Use of learning resources made available online?
· Use of online discussion forums?
· Blogs?
· Wikis?

Could it be it’s all these things and perhaps a lot more? Some people don’t think so, and have made up their minds e-learning is a marginal aspect of learning and development. I respectfully disagree, but I’m increasingly seeing this as a debate about semantics.

Perhaps we need to re-frame the debate as one about learning and applications of digital technology. If the term e-learning is becoming an obstacle to engaging in serious discussion about the use of some of the tools listed above, then perhaps it’s time to stop talking about e-learning.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Shameless plug

Today is the official publication date of my new book, Delivering E-Learning: a complete strategy for design, application and assessment.

Actually, truth be told, it's been available from Amazon at least for a couple of weeks now.

AmazonLink and KoganPageLink.

As previously indicated, happy to discuss anything to do with the book here, especially the more controversial aspects, which include scathing criticisms of e-learning vendors and disparagement of technology standards. But for the moment, I'm just pleased that it's in the shops.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Set learning free

I continue to meet quite a few people who are very critical of Wikipedia (WP), and stress its unreliability. This argument is becoming tired, but every source is fallible, and one of the good things about WP is that its fallibility is clear: I find increasingly that entries I consult on WP have been discussed, edited, improved, and cite clear references; the occasional exceptions are flagged as not yet meeting standards in some way, and can be viewed as a work-in-progress.

Some criticism of the use of WP, as opposed to the intrinsic value of the resource, seems fair. An academic of my acquaintance is surely not alone when he bemoans the laziness of his students who cite WP. No matter how often he tells them to look for the original sources at the foot of the WP page and cite them, they continue to take the easy option. His complaint is understandable, but the frequency with which the students consult the world’s biggest online encyclopaedia bears testimony to its usefulness as an initial source of reference.

I consult WP nearly every day, and take it for granted now, but lately I’ve been getting more excited about Wikiversity (WV), another site in the Wiki family.

WV is “devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning”.

WV is "a centre for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities. Its primary priorities and goals are to:
· create and host a range of free-content, multilingual learning materials/resources, for all age groups and learner levels
· host learning and research projects and communities around existing and new materials".

So it doesn’t offer courses, but rather a more participative model of e-learning. How this came about is discussed here.

WV will be three years old in August of this year, and I predict it will go from strength to strength, perhaps becoming as widely recognised and used as its sister project, WP.