Whither eLearning?

The MASIE Center has just released:

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards:
A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption

(2nd edition)

Eighty-two pages of cogent explanations, history, processes, and reference sources. This is one of those reference works, like a good dictionary, that you need at your fingertips for answering questions about standards you may be a little fuzzy on.

I do take issue with the report's "simple working definition of the term e-Learning" as:

    "learning or training that is prepared, delivered, or managed using a variety of learning technologies and which be deployed either locally or globally."

Isn't all learning or training is prepared, delivered, and managed using some learning technology? And deployed either locally or globally? By this definition, wouldn't the scrolls in the ancient library at Alexandria be eLearning?

At last night's eLearning Forum we talked about what we wanted to be known as. eLearning is divisive and carries too much bad baggage. We want to embrace KM, collaboration, simulation, and other things that don't fall neatly into the eLearning category. Our mission statement was projected on an erasable white board in the front of the room. Richard Clark walked up and crossed out the "e." I crossed out the "learning" and wrote in Doing. Someone suggested "Distributed Learning," but that doesn't capture it for me.

This is all sort of ho-hum compared to the response to Sam Adkin's post on Learning Circuits blog, We are the problem. We are selling Snake Oil. Sam begins by saying:

    I read these long tortuous posts bewailing the malaise of our educational systems. The problem is not "out there". We are the problem. We are selling snake oil. We now have ample data to show that:

    Training does not work.

    eLearning does not work.

    Blending Learning does not work.

    Knowledge Management does not work.

    Yet we collectively reify our denial and project the root of the problem out to an external institutional framework. We are the source of the problem because we are selling snake oil. It doesn't work but there is still plenty of money in it.

In a little over two days, thirty-five people have replied, generally with well-reasoned analyses. Is this the gunshot to kick off the new learning revolution?

My only comment thus far: You want to make an omelet, you break a few eggs.

Posted by Jay Cross at November 19, 2003 11:01 AM | TrackBack

Sam Adkin's screed is interesting, but I am not sure that while his data may be accurate, his interpretation may not. We need to look beyond the 60+billion dollar training industry and ask why learning of any type, as currently constituted and delivered may not meet expectations which may be wrong or not realistic.

Education serves many functions. Among them is ceetification for promotions, raises, diplomas etc. If the learner has accomplished what s/he sets out to get, the credit. Then any delivery system may be very successful. And, thus, we have the wrong measures and reward systems for the learner and, perhaps, the providers and delivery systems. The industry may be very successful

We also need to look at the traditional system K-16 which is also measured by the graduation rate whereas the typical "just-in-case" learning has become "just-in-time" when it is "crammed" to pass a test. In other words the knowledge is needed to get a certificate, a goal the learner accomplishes with no desire or need to carry it beyond that point to an uncertain future.

Bad measures, goals and models may mean the system is really working whether in click or brick space or blended.


tom abeles

Posted by: tom abeles at November 20, 2003 06:47 AM

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)

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