What is eLearning?

Aug 22, 2012

This may be a silly question for many of you; pardon me for my ignorance.

Recently, someone asked me whether eBooks can be called eLearning. His point was that, if eLearning is comprises all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching, eBooks are obviously elearning as it uses technology and also, teaches readers something or the other.

I am not sure if ebooks, podcasts, videos tutorials available in YouTube and so on are really eLearning or not. It could be eLearning because it contains information and is delivered using a technology. However, they do not measure the learning outcome. I am really confused about this.

Would like to know your thoughts on it.  

5 Replies
Bruce Graham

Hi Sana, and a warm welcome to Heroes

Great question.

I would certainly regard eBooks as eLearning. Forget the "e", it's all just learning. This forum is one of the best sources on the Planet for Instructional Designers - in my view this community is also (e)Learning.

Measuring the outcome is really only sensible (IMHO) when the outcome is a behavioural change in, for example, the workplace. Quizzes in courses etc. are all fair and good, (if they are well-designed, which many are not...).

The "e", again IMHO, is just an expression of the mechanism used to deliver learning, whether anyone learns anything or not has to be measured using a behavioural change, which should be stated as an outcome of the learning however it takes place.

Hope that helps, and once again, a very warm welcome to the Heroes community.


Kristin Savko

Reminds me of this article I just read: "E" in eLearning vanishing?"

This part really stuck out to me:

"Let's assume that all learning - as we go forward - will use a MIX of on-demand and live content, context and collaboration. Some will be highly designed and some will be real-time. Some will be digitally connected and some will be face to face."

James Brown

Interesting topic and if we look at the term learning as outlined by Wikipedia,

"Learning is acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. Learning is not compulsory, it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge."

Does this then imply that the term e-learning implies that learning occurs electronically? I would say no. To the contrary, the term e-learning is merely the delivery method of educational materials and in my scholarly opinion, does not imply where the learning actually took place. Just because something is titled E-something does not mean it has anything to do with an educational pedagogy.

Back to the original question, is an e-book considered e-learning? Just because a book comes in an "Electronic" format does not in my scholarly opinion mean that this is e-learning. Again, I think electronic materials are merely new learning tools available to instructors. We term electronic books as e-books because they are available on a computer but wouldn't it be a fair assumption to say that e-learning is merely an expansion of the term multimedia?  Does this mean we should also have terms like M(multimedia)-Learning or T(traditional)-Learning as well? No. Again these terms simply describe the educational material delivery method and do not describe where or how the learning takes place.

Another example of the point e-learning simply describes the delivery method is by examining how people learn which are  restricted to three different methods.

  • Visual
  • Tactile
  •  Kinesthetic & Audio

As you can see, the term e-learning just does not fit in to these learning styles. Again If we look at the term e-learning, it really only implies instructional material delivery and does not imply the process of learning.

Ok.. I'll get down off my box now.

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