Myth #2: E-learning & M-learning
If we don’t call people who make online purchases, ‘E-buyers’, then why to we call people who watch online content ‘E-learners’? Many will think this blog is about semantics, when it is about fundamental conceptual differences that should be maintained.
Just because content is delivered digitally, for some reason, people are led to think it will be ‘learned’ more than the same content delivered in the classroom. Most digital and mobile content is still delivered in a linear (education institute knows best) fashion, and most is still geared toward meeting some (outdated?) external standard. How is this new or innovative?
Actually, learning from a digital medium has been around for decades. During the post war early days of the net (yes it has been around that long) governments and universities used to share information. During the 80’s and early 90’s Usenet groups used digital bulletin boards to share and acquire information. During the early days of the web (mid ‘90s – long before Google) people spent time on this new medium searching for and soaking up information that was of interest to them. So how interested are people in digital content today?
The most interesting stat on this image (Reich, 2015) is not the paltry 6% average completion rate, but the way the researchers classified 58% completion as ‘intend to earn a certificate’. This concept of intention is a key element in learning that often overlooked. Lets return to a statement from Myth #1: Education is for the masses, whereas learning is highly personal. If, as the graphic says, “students who intend to complete a course are 4.5 times more likely to…” then you have to wonder if the appeal of digital content delivery the technology, or the fact that it is extremely convenient and an extreme interest in the material?
I once witnessed a young guy watching a YouTube video on how to drive a standard (stick shift) because he had his test the next day. But after 3 minutes of the video, he was lost. Necessity is not the same as ‘intent to finish’. Some things (MANY actually) still require some element of hands on experience for actual learning to take place.
There is definitely a place for more digital delivery of content, augmented reality and even some VR in education. But we need to drop the false pretense that just because it is in a digital format, it is automatically engaging and salient points will be internalized and learned.
Final thought: If you are going to utilize digital content, then use the following rubric to at least try and ensure that it will accomplish what you want it to.