Jaymie Koroluk asked the twitterverse about the proper spelling of “eLearning”.
I responded back, a bit snarkily:
@jaymiek learning. There is no e.
It’s too much to describe in 140 characters. But I can’t stand the “e” in eLearning. (I can’t stand the “m” in mLearning, either.)
It’s just learning. The “e” is counter-productive. It forces people to focus on the technology. To see it as separate. As an isolated thing that must somehow be fit into the regular flow of teaching and learning.
It’s all just learning. Technology can provide some pretty amazing affordances – the ability to handle larger scale open discussions, the ability to have every participant in a class to be content producers/consumers/collaborators, etc… Technology is important.
But it is not separate. Viewing it as a separate thing – eLearning/mLearning/whateverLearning – leaves it disjointed and fractured. A class has to shift gears to somehow begin dealing with the “technology section” of a lesson, before returning to the “real” learning. Focusing on “eLearning” pushes the incredible stuff that technology can do into some form of electronic/abstract ghetto.
My team at the Teaching & Learning Centre is often called in to various teaching programmes to provide a “technology session” – we do it grudgingly, knowing that the hour (or two) we’re given out of a week-long programme is likely the only real non-superficial integration of technology and discussion of pedagogy and implications. The “technology session” underscores the “e” in eLearning. The “e” as a separate thing that can be bolted on. A separate thing that is less important than the “real” learning that happens without the “e”.
I understand that “eLearning” is used as a shorthand, much like “Web 2.0” is a shorthand for a constellation of properties and attributes rather than anything concrete. But, we need to stop treating technology as a separate thing, as something in addition to conventional teaching and learning.
Effective learning requires seamless application of appropriate technologies – or the lack thereof – and when this is done, the distinctions and segregation disappear. It’s just learning.