Four weeks ago a Google search of the term ‘e-learning’ returned 149 million results, today it returned 157 million. In the space of a month another 8 million e-learning references were added to the World Wide Web (that is a staggering 2 million additional references a week). That’s a lot of e-learning – or is it? I’ll put myself out on a limb here and say that it might be a lot of ‘e’, but I doubt there is much ‘learning’ going on.

If you put aside an hour to investigate what the web has on offer with regards to your e-learning search you will discover there is a lot talk about platforms and delivery systems – who has the best one? Who has the fastest one? Who has the cheapest one, and which one comes with steak knives. Once you get past the obsession with the technology, you’ll realise that it doesn’t matter what platform you have, if you have no content, then it’s just a virtual doorstop. So now start looking at your search results that offer e-learning content. If you look hard enough and long enough you will find some exceptional content, but mostly you will find an endless stream of pdf files and powerpoint presentations. There’s only one thing more ineffective than training staff with boring text and that is training staff with boring text on a screen – and this is the reason the term ‘e-learning’ evokes a groan in so many of us.

E-learning can be so much more than the
‘scroll of death'. We need to shift our focus away from the ‘e’ and onto the ‘learning’.

We need to ask ourselves how do people learn – and we need to be interested in the answer and prepared to act on it. Do people really learn from endless pages of text with an occasional spinning graphic or do they learn from an engaging, experiential process? Since the beginning of time stories have been used to teach... well, almost everything. Why can’t we use stories, narrative, character and drama in e-learning? As a learning tool it’s proven it can stand the test of time.

We need to encourage creativity in content creation because until we can improve the standard of the learning, we will not fully realise the potential of the platforms and software. So when we think about content let’s think less about the ‘e’ and more about the ‘learning’ and see if we can clean up this polluted term!

Anyway - that’s what we think.