Let us continue our exploration of the phenomenon of learning. Remember learning is “acquisition” of knowledge, skills, and attitude. When we speak of acquiring something, we also speak of “someplace” from where it shall be acquired, thus, we refer to an “environment”.
So we can say that Learning results from an interaction between the learner and the environment. This interaction could be learner-driven or environment-driven, and it takes place through a “medium of communication.”
Let us understand it by analyzing the behavior of an old acquaintance, Ms. Froth. Froth wants to learn “how to blog.” Here’s how we can explain her behavior in the terminology that we’ve now “acquired.”
Froth (the learner) wishes to learn (the learning process is thus, learner-driven) “How to blog” (a skill to be acquired; if she already knows how to blog, but now wishes to learn how to blog more effectively, she’d be “modifying” a skill, which is another aspect of learning.) For this learning, she will have to interact with the environment (comprising her friends, colleagues, trainers, books, and of course – the Web,) through an appropriate communication medium (speech, text, training material, online content.)
You got it…right?
Now you are ready to lift the shroud of mystery that surrounds the learning mediums.
Simply put, a learning medium is a communication medium which is used for the purpose of learning.
Thus, you have:
- Classroom trainings (where the communication medium is primarily non-tech (apart from some non-interactive, soporific PowerPoint presentation.)
- ELearning (where the medium of communication is electronic – usually computers.)
I am not going to spend a lot of your precious time on expanding upon classroom trainings. That you are reading this post goes to prove that you’ve had enough of that experience. So let us try to figure out this exotic bird called eLearning.
Photo by kodomut
ELearning is the name given to all such learning, which uses technology as a medium to communicate. Thus, online courses and trainings as well as standalone computer-based training programs, and even blogs such as the one you are reading now, comprise elearning.
Actually, eLearning isn’t an exotic bird at all. It is the same learning that we know so well – with the medium of communication being the only tangible difference. There’s no difference as far as the learner’s psychology and the instructional design principles are concerned.
However, there’s a lot of difference between the way both kinds of learning programs are designed, developed, and implemented. As you might’ve guessed, most of the difference results from the technological angle, which unfortunately bugs many of the traditionalists.
So when Froth searches the web, or buys a CD that tells her “How to Blog”, she learns through eLearning. From the learner’s angle eLearning isn’t very different from classroom training. Froth still uses her senses (seeing/hearing) to absorb the new learning, and then processes it cognitively; the way she’d do in a classroom-training program. But yes, there’s a lot of difference between the way a classroom trainer would prepare the content and an eLearning instructional designer would.
In my next post, we’ll ponder over some of these differences. We also haven’t spoken of the blended learning solutions (where you blend elearning with traditional classroom learning) – but I believe that if we understand the two ingredients of blended learning correctly, blended learning would explain itself.
Until Friday then:-)