Why do we still have the ‘e’ in ‘e-learning’?
Shouldn’t it be just about the learning? And doesn’t the retention of the ‘e’ just perpetuate a short-sighted focus on the tech, not the teach?
These questions, in my experience, often come from the early-adopters who are already well down the track of thinking about the effective use of technology. For these folk, the tech may already be invisible in their classrooms, and using Google docs, or blogs, or wikis, fully integrated in effective learning, is as natural as breathing.
What the questions miss, however, is the importance of the strategic use of technology – the word ‘e-learning’ reminds us that this is a specialist field, that to use technology appropriately requires a clear understanding of the relationship between content, pedagogy and technology. Check out the TPACK framework [right] for a nice unpacking of this idea.
The other reason to retain the ‘e’ is that, for many schools and teachers, for a number of reasons, there still is little or no ‘e’ going on. I would argue that a deliberate focus is needed on the ‘e’ until the effective use of it becomes integrated and invisible (have a look at the ‘Empowering’ stage in the e-Learning Planning Framework, the state at which entire schools, not just one or two teachers, would be ‘e-mature’), or at the pedagogy section in the New Zealand Curriculum…and we have a fair way to get to that state in many schools. It’s easy to ignore a focus unless it’s overtly drawn to our attention.
So, keep the ‘e’, at least while we are in a period of capability building. If you use the tech appropriately, then you’ll recognise the specialism behind the word – and if you are not yet there, it reminds us that a clear strategy and framework is crucial if it isn’t be an add-on – or even forgotten altogether.