e-pologia? nah.

28 10 2006

harold jarche discusses albert ip’s decision to drop the "e" from the name of his blog which is now entitled "random walk in learning."  (though don’t change your rss feed aggregator, the url remains as it was.)  ip maintains that having the "e" in front of learning commits us to only talking about learning when technology is involved.  jarche concludes:

Perhaps the creation of the “learning technologies” field has done us a
disservice in spawning a separate discipline from learning (or
education or training). As tool builders and tool users for millennia,
we cannot escape our technologies, nor should we give them over to a
small priesthood of experts.

obviously i have some interest in this issue with two "e’s" hanging off the front of my blog’s name. you can check out my comment that i made on harold’s blog over in the green cocomments box in the left sidebar.

i may be weird, but i’ve always considered myself to be in the learning profession. Blueheavenlye
to me the "e" in elearning doesn’t mean i seen technology as being a higher calling to learning.  the chalkboard and textbooks are both forms of technology used in learning situations.  a good counselor or manager knows to get out from behind the desk when seeking to create an environment of openness when they are seeking to understand what an employee is saying.  i’d maintain that thats a good use of the technology in a learning situation.

for me the "e" does indeed stand for a particular subset of technologies that include computers and other electronic devices used to send or receive data.  it also includes the internet/worldwide web and other video and audio transmission and retrieval systems to which these devices are connected.  it also represents the human interface between learner, facilitator and these tools.   blogs, wikis,  rss, metadata tags, high definition digital video, voip, spread-spectrum technologies,  wireless broadband, mobile communication devices, other world environments, massive multi-player online games and others are affording new opportunities for learning to be accelerated and to reach learners who have previously been under-
served either by access to education and educational resources or by instructional biases and limitations.

i’ve never seen myself as some sort of expert here to guide a congregation of followers to a promise land that only i and a few others truly understand.  i’m more the nutball daredevil jumping off a ledge into an unknown pool of water who screams back up to his friends, ‘see!  the water’s just fine.’  in one of the very first posts to this blog, my bonnie lies over the ocean – mixing metaphors part 2,   i talked  about  elearning  in the  workplace  being a vast ocean of knowledge as we pushed the limits in the areas of education, technology and business.  this vast ocean was, and in many respects still is, terrifying to educators and business people. (techies by nature aren’t terrified of open water.)

to me, being a learning professional who specializes in elearning means i’m willing to test the waters.  check out that new technology and figure out if it might help improve learning.  if it does, then it’s my duty to make it make sense to other learning professionals.  it boils down to the same things no matter what technology you use or don’t use.  i’m here to help improve the following process:

  • determine if there is something that someone must, should or wants to learn
  • find the motivational lever that will help them through the learning process
  • help them find or present to them the content they need
  • guide them in understanding, learning or mastering the information or behaviorBrightyellowheavenlye
  • finding a way to re-enforce what they have learned over time to assure that it sticks
  • assessing or helping them self-assess whether or not they have learned what they set out to learn.

that i happen to do this via new and emerging technologies means putting an e before learning is warranted.  i won’t apologize for that.   if  i’m too focused on the technology and forget that above process is what’s important then you have permission to change the name of my blog to "e e."



4 responses

29 10 2006
Harold Jarche

Given what you say here, Dave, you should be called a specialist in o-learning (O for open-minded). Like you, I think that all learning professionals should understand the technologies that they could be using.

You may be open-minded about trying and adopting new technologies, but too many educators and trainers have decided that they are not into this technology thing, so they ignore it. That makes them more vulnerable to the hucksters selling technology for technology’s sake. Perhaps the term e-learning scares them off? I don’t really know.

I came to this field as a military training development officer who had to figure out real quickly how flight simulation was developed and shortly thereafter if CBT was an option for training aircrew. I didn’t know anything about technology-mediated training, but had been a classroom trainer for at least a decade before. Luckily, I was forced into learning about new new technologies for training because my bosses needed the right advice.

So, how about we start a new field called o-learning 😉

31 10 2006


You may or not be weird – I think that may be beyond the scope of this discussion. 😉 I do think we should be concerned with technologies (in the broadest sense of the word) – to include techniques, methodologies and new modes of thinking. I also think we should be concerned with ‘learning’ and how we use it and how we understand it and I think that these conversations are not trivial at all but instead reflect a continuing effort on our part (speaking for a whole industry here) to define the foundational stones of our still young profession. Kudos to you and Harold for having it.


1 11 2006
dave lee

harold and mark:
thanks for your comments. harold i think i’ll have to pass on o-learning. given what nasa (o-rings) and the porn industry have done to its reputation, i think “e” is a safer bet. 😉

you do raise an interesting point regarding people fearing elearning. it raised a number of things in my mind so i’ve responded in a new post.

mark, your comments about technology just being an integral part of what we do rings true for me. i’ve never understood the common practice of considering the technology separate from the content. it happens all the time. i would have thought that the colossal failure of “shovelware” would have convinced more people that they must be thought of as integrated and dependent upon each other.

1 10 2009

I’m currently teaching a class of 69 college freshmen with iPhones. At this point (6 weeks in) it looks to me like the tools are good, but in the end it all comes back to “what you do with them.” (day-by-day account on my blog starting next week).

So call it whatever you want ; )

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