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Three generations of eLearning

Three generations of eLearningAfter the decades at the end of the 20th Century programmers ruled almost exclusively over eLearning-development. The result was creative technical solutions that all too often were created at the expense of pedagogy and user-friendliness. And further back, before the IT-boom, the source of electronic learning was recorded tapes where the students should imitate what they heard. So much better with the new pronunciation software that is able to record the user’s voice and compare with accurate articulation. The third generation of eLearning makes the individual learner king.

The first generation of eLearning

…with tapes and later films was producing a one-way-communication context where the innovation simply was to use electronic media but not so much to improve learning. In the school class, the pupils chanted in chorus, while the teacher tried to hear the errors from each individual. As regards of self studies the student had to become both teacher and pupil since they had to both say the words and hear if the pronunciation were right. Another form of electronic learning was showing film where the teacher asked questions afterwards. This developed a context with individual receivers of information that competed against each other to get a chance to answer.

The second generation of eLearning

…has its roots in the early 1990s simultaneously with the IT-boom. The innovation of this generation was integrated interactivity, meaning that software gave feedback to the user’s answers, which lead to an individualization of the electronic learning process. Unfortunately, the pioneer years were characterised by too much focus on technology at the expense of content, pedagogy and user-friendliness. Another weakness was that the teacher to large extent was excluded from the electronic learning process. It was a context with the student and the computer with the teacher as technological support and to some extent knowledge bank. Although there were talks about ‘blended learning’ but the traditional education and the electronic learning remained mostly separate phenomenon.

The third generation of eLearning

…is the first large step towards integration of the electronic learning with traditional education. Two innovations characterise the latest development. First, the new administration modules with activity- and result management gives the teacher sensible information to evaluate the performance of the group as well as individual students. For businesses the administration modules also give perfect information to evaluate ROI, return of investments. The second innovation is the new easy to use authoring software that makes it possible to edit exercises within the delivered courses. The user can also easily create new courses and exercises.

The teacher becomes a natural part of the electronic learning process with these innovations. At the same time as suppliers of eLearning software will have to change appearance from a supplier of courses to become a competence development partner.

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom©

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