What's wrong with elearning?

Generally quite a lot actually. Here's a list of the problems I see.

  • Most of the people working in e-learning focus on the e not the learning. If learners don't learn, clever technology is wasted.
  • Elearning environments or virtual learning environments are designed to mimic face-to-face courses, whereas the beauty of the technology lies in its ability to provide lots of different ways of learning. Does no-one see the irony in the "virtual" learning tag?
  • Lots of courses are designed around reading text off a screen, but actually many learners prefer reading text from that old learning technology: the book!
  • Because we measure what is easy to measure not what is important we tend to use assessments that can be handled automatically such as multiple choice quizzes rather than assessments that measure higher level skills.
  • Too often we miss trends in broader technology areas. The biggest growth, nay explosion in technology uptake is in social media. So why is so much elearning still based on isolated learning experiences, with tokenistic discussion groups ignored by users too busy sharing their thoughts on Facebook? Even in a face to face paradigm of learning, social interaction is highly valued and nurtured
  • Similarly, the invention at the heart of the World Wide Web was the humble hyperlink. One of the richest value added features of good elearning is the use of primary evidence sources and additional material all at the click of a button. And yet most material makes very limited use of this because it was not available in the old paradigm.

We need to move beyond replacement use of technology to enhancement of learning by taking advantage of new opportunities. Elearning needs to be not just more convenient and accessible than face to face learning but more flexible and adaptable, more active, closer to the primary evidence and to additional information and more engaging through the use of a rich variety of media. And when it achieves all that we'll just call it learning and it will be as natural as reading a book or listening to a really interesting talk. And we will no more think if it as technology than a pen paper or book, those technologies which we have assimilated into our everyday existence.