Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Searching for Meaning

After reading Tony Kareer's recent post on "e-learning or learning? - more to it" and watching the recent David Weinberger video I remembered a recent conversation that David Wilson and I had regarding how we describe what we do to others.

We both agreed that using elearning to describe what we do (what ever that is? - As Wikipedia says "It is used interchangeably in so many contexts that it is critical to be clear what one means when one speaks of 'eLearning'.") does seem a somewhat limiting term as most people associate this with e-learning content and what we do does have a much wider context. However, when I explain to friends or people what we do is help large organisations utilise technology effectively to help their people learn (a bit of a mouthful!) I normally receive blank looks until I add that it involves elearning. This "tag" helps people gain an understanding at a very base level of what we do. A term I've favoured more recently has been "learning technology" (or educational technology) rather than elearning as this seems to suggest to me a much wider remit but even this seems to have a multitude of interpretations and there is even less awareness of the term.

One of the challenges of the area we work in is the diversity of activities this covers. One day you could be discussing blended learning and learning styles the next interoperability and rapid content development. David Weinberger may argue that I should not be concerned how we classify what we do as it should be down to others to "tag" our activities in whatever way suits them. Whilst I see the validity in this it still feels important to define your own role and help others get an appreciation of what you do.

Although some people have celebrated the dropping of the "e" from elearning to me this just seems to muddy the waters. Yes, most people agree the learning is the most important element, but this is such a broad "tag" that it does very little to define our roles. I think maybe time will tell on an universally accepted term but I'm still waiting .......

1 comment:

gavin.heaton said...

When you specialise its easy to see the delineations between the areas of expertise. But to those outside of that domain it is less clear (or important).

Unfortunately we throw away some of the terminology too early ... just as e-Learning becomes more accepted by the mainstream we go ahead and ditch the "e".