What's eLearning?

There may be other definitions, but I define e-learning (also called elearning or eLearning) as:

The delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means. E-learning involves the use of a computer or electronic device (e.g. a mobile phone) in some way to provide training, educational or learning material.
(Derek Stockley 2003)

One of the most confusing aspects of eLearning is that nobody knows what it is.
We do know the "e" doesn't stand for "electronic". The"e" in eLearning would be better defined as Evolving or Everywhere or Enhanced or Extended

Based on this survey from a very respected company, there are many people that have the wrong definition of eLearning. The survey asked 259 training managers at Fortune 500 firms what tools they use to create e-learning content. The top choice was PowerPoint with 66% of responses. Next was Microsoft Word with 63%, Macromedia's Dreamweaver 61% and Flash 47%.
(Respondents could choose more than one.)

Just taking a Word document or PowerPoint presentation and doing a "Save as HTML" does NOT mean you have created eLearning.

Just taking a F2F presentation and presenting it using a web conference is not eLearning.

I define
eLearning as ...
A learning environment supported by continuously evolving, collaborative processes
focused on increasing individual and organizational performance.

Effective eLearning thrives at the nexus of web usability, communication, relationship, document, and Knowledge Management tools.

I also like this definition of Knowledge Management.
Knowledge Management is about using information strategically to achieve one's business objectives. Knowledge Management is the organizational activity of
creating the social environment and technical infrastructure so that knowledge can be accessed, shared and created.
Robert K. Logan

Finally we have to clarify some concepts about eLearning

elearning is Non Linear - Learners determine how, what and when they access information.

eLearning is NOT Linear - Learners must move through presentation in a predetermined sequence.

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elearning is Dynamic Process - Transformed, personalized, customized on demand in response to learner and environmental variables. Available on demand and just in time.

eLearning is NOT Static Event - Learning is not an event that only happens when scheduled training occurs, it happens continuously.

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elearning is Learner Controlled - Learner controls their own interaction with the content and presentation. Learner has opportunities for reflection and application.

eLearning is NOT Instructor Controlled - Instructor determines sequence, content, media and timing. Long simulations, or animations or Flash presentations are instructor controlled. Synchronous meetings are instructor controlled.

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elearning is Reusable Objects - Content of any media that can be chunked down to the most granular, meaningful level to allow combinations of objects to be assembled and dynamically presented for different environments and functional needs.

eLearning is NOT Learning Objects or Knowledge Objects or Information Objects - By focusing the use of an object for only one environment, you remove reusability. Web standard enterprise level portal and CMS platforms should be used.

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elearning is
Informal
- Recognizes that at least 70% of learning occurs in meetings, in the corridors and breakrooms, through collaboration, in situational communities.

eLearning is NOT Formal - Learning occurs w/o formal training presentations. Training is not the same as learning.

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elearning is Platform Independent - can be transformed for use in a variety of standard formats - XML, HTML, DHTML, PDA, etc. in a variety of environments, both formal and informal.

eLearning is NOT Standards - AICC ( Aviation Industry CBT Committee) , SCORM - (Sharable Content Object Reference Model - Department of Defense, USA) Why use these limiting standards from extremely different, strongly hierarchical environments?

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elearning is Knowledge Management - Rich, flexible tools chosen to create, collect and distribute information, on demand and contextually, to learners, intra and extra organizationally.

eLearning is NOT LMS or LCMS - To manage the administrative and content aspects of training, usually supports a linear presentation of materials. Used to track learners, not the value of the learning processes.

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elearning is Communities of Interest - Collaborative, self selecting and organizing groups of individuals that share the same interests.

eLearning is NOT CoPs, Functional or Departmental - Limited by type of function, title or expertise.

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elearning is RAD (Rapid Application Development) - Iterative, incremental design process. Define, design, refine processes are integrated and parallel. Continuously refining prototypes allows improvements to be integrated and tested with each iteration. Each iteration offers an opportunity to increase the penetration and acceptance of the learning support processes.

eLearning is NOT ISD - Linear approach to needs analysis, design and evaluation. Errors are geometrically compounded from wrong audience analysis, invalid sample audience, skewed survey results, wrong focus on weaknesses. Validity and usability issues are not discovered until training is delivered. By then it's too late to correct, adjust, or change because of the sunk resource investment in the deliverables.

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elearning is Multi Channel
Learner <-> Learner, Content <-> Learner,
Expert <-> Learner, Expert <-> Content,
Expert <-> Expert

eLearning is NOT Single Channel - Trainer to Attendee

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