Two Standing Legs of E-learning/Digital Learning: Part 1: Concept of E-learning/Digital
Generally, when e-learning is mentioned, what comes to mind is learning that takes place through the use of technologies especially computing-based and internet technologies. Learning does not just happen, it has to go through some processes like: learning objectives formulation, content creation, selection of methodologies/strategies, creation of assessment items, delivery and evaluation. Learning takes place when all these processes mentioned are intentionally planned for, because learning is an intentional activity. Of course, it is generally believed that learning does not take place except through teaching or training. For learning to take place it must be taught by either a teacher, tutor, a coach, trainer, or facilitator, information and piece of knowledge that is not purposeful will not bring about learning.
Therefore, when those activities involved in learning process are planned, prepared and delivered through computing-based technologies, it is called e-learning or digital learning. Computing-based technologies could be offline or online or blended/hybrid, synchronous or asynchronous, PC-based or mobile-based; cloud-based or local-based. So, succinctly e-learning can be viewed as the use of computing and Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of learning solutions to enable and expedite learning and improve job performance. So, the most important aspect of e-learning/digital learning is “learning”.
‘Digital/E’ is just a qualifier that explains or suggests the tools/carriages/housing frameworks/ platforms/types of learning that are going to be used to execute or implement the learning. So, with or without digital/E, learning is still learning, either with digital or analogue technologies. However, when a qualifier is introduced into a word, it changes the methodology and strategy. For example: “a dull boy” changes one’s perception about the boy. It also changes our approach to deal with the boy. So, in like manner ‘digital’ in digital learning modifies the approaches, strategies and processes that will be applied to learning, it’s due to the fact that qualifier has its own properties which are capable of changing the preparation, plan, and delivery of the subject/action.
The subject is learning while the qualifier is, in this case, a modifier. Take for example, when a teachers or trainer uses the traditional mode and strategies to deliver content, the plan, preparation and delivery of the content is influenced by the traditional elements, which by themselves have characteristics capable of changing the learning environment. Therefore, to say ‘digital’ is not relevant, it’s to deceive ourselves (Teachers/trainers, Instructional designers and developers). You will agree with me that all processes, procedures, plans, preparations, and delivery of human life have been influenced by digital technologies.