Online Learning 101

E-Learning, MOOCs, interactive content, blended learning. These words populate modern learning discussion since the early 2000s. Yet there are still misconceptions over what online learning encompasses.

“E-Learning? Sure, we have it. Everybody gets a tablet computer and they can see our slides there.”
Online learning, technology based learning, technology enhanced learning are catch-all concepts for efforts to improve learning with the support of modern technologies. At their simplest teachers provide students content to download somewhere. Tech savvy institutions may also enable online content creation and modification as well.
Online documentation is getting ubiquitous and people don’t recognize this as a technology improvement anymore. The first misconception is that online learning is limited to E-Learning. The later stands for online courses usually offered for free and studied alone.
A radical form of E-Learning are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in which an almost unlimited number of participants is able to access organised online content, receive grades and sometimes even participate in forums and blogs about the same. Their current business model works with licences that are then offered to people who finish and pass courses for a price.
“Look, we do not produce MOOCs here. We don’t want everybody to get all our material for free. They don’t want to be alone in a room, they want to see each other. That is not our business model. We don’t need e-learning.”
MOOCs have been debated a lot a dangerous, disruptive development, which would cost professors their jobs, just to be latter labelled dead. These radical views aren’t seen as truth any longer and the discussion has moved to how do MOOCs complement the learning environement and what is its ideal target audience.
Just as Technology based learning is not only E-Learning, so is E-Learning not only composed of (huge) MOOCs. A well made online preparatory module, which levels the field for a complex statistics class, is also considered e-learning content. Webinars and other forms of interactive content, be it in face-to-face or distance interactions, are also a form of online learning.
You may improve your classes, trainings and programs using technology. This is a step-by-step process. Sometimes small increments already deliver you a “WOW” effect from your participants. But don’t count on it: Technology and its enhancements are nowadays perceived as a commodity. Having little technology in your programmes will hurt less than their complete absence.


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