Dropping the “e” in e-Learning

Question: Should We Drop the “e” in “eLearning”?

Answer: This question posted as an online article caught my attention; particularly because the name of our network is the eLearning Network(TM)! Our opinion – words matter. At the eLearning Network(TM), we help clients build instructor-led training, computer-based training, eLearning, blended learning, and other training and development support materials targeting various delivery modalities. We need a way to distinguish between these modalities and the word eLearning has a very specific purpose.

Case in point – this website is dedicated to eLearning almost exclusively, and you are reading this blog because eLearning is of interest to you. If we get rid of the word “eLearning”, what word would be more appropriate? Is it really necessary to adopt a new phrase? Creating effective eLearning is a very different discipline than creating instructor-led classroom training. Not all classroom trainers can make the transition to developing eLearning, which often includes development of audio/visual interactive course content. Similarly, when evaluating new projects with our clients we walk them through the instructional design process, identify the learning objectives and select the training modalities most appropriate to cover the objectives. We then decide how to structure the training experience including the mix of modalities. If all training development is simply labeled “learning” rather than identified and respected for the uniqueness of each modality, then it becomes unnecessarily difficult to distinguish between ILT, eLearning, and other content approaches.

Training Modality & Development Phrases:

  • eLearning: Self-paced digital training generally targeting traditional computers/laptops
  • mLearning: Self-paced digital training specifically targeting tablets and smart phones
  • ILT: Instructor-led training – typically in a traditional brick and mortar classroom setting
  • Synchronous: Typically Instructor-led online training using a live webcast technology
  • Asynchronous: Self-paced study – typically watching pre-recorded webcasts
  • Blended Learning: Training programs that encompass two or more of the above modalities

If nothing else, retaining the term “eLearning” helps when attempting to differentiate  between traditional ILT and development of digital technology. Once you know some form of self-paced digital solution is desired and appropriate, you can dig deeper. I really don’t see any point in getting rid of a term that is useful and came to existence out of a clear necessity.

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