Come on, let’s drop the “e” in e-learning.

I wouldn’t dream of calling modern websites “Web 2.0” these days. Well, not without the risk of being mocked on Twitter.

Yet I still use the term “e-learning”. Which, when you think about it, in 2014, is ridiculous.  When I use a cooking app I’m not “e-cooking”. When I use Netflix I’m not “e-watching”. 
If I go for a run and use Runkeeper I’m not “e-running”. But when I decide to learn using technology it’s OK to say that I am “e-learning”.

OK, the terms e-book and e-cigarette have not helped the cause and added yet more stature to the big “e”, and I understand it’s a way to differentiate the analogue vs its digital counterpart, but surely e-learning has matured enough so we can finally drop it.

The teaching and learning industry has tried experimenting with other acronyms such as TEL (Technology Enahanced Learning), amongst others.
But let’s face it, we are trying too hard to find an alternative to something that just isn’t needed anymore.

So why do we find it so hard to drop the word “electronic”?

There is a fundamental difference between “e” and “online”.
Buying something via the internet is called online shopping. Banking via the internet is referred to as online banking. Learning via the internet should therefore be referred to as online learning.

Back in the glory days of flip cams, voice recorders, voting pads and a whole plethora of gadgets and gizmos, prefixing learning with an “e” seemed to fit, the “e” actually referred to anything with a circuit board in.

Nowadays, it’s all online. VLE’s, Social Media, photo sharing sites, plagiarism tools, dropboxes, over-animated slide decks and many more. The physical piece of equipment isn’t important, it’s how it interfaces with what we do online that matters.

So the “e”, in my opinion is a nod to things that haven’t worked so well in the past. There is a negative connotation with e-learning, and those who have worked in the industry long enough know exactly what I am talking about.
My 4 year children on the other hand do not. I would certainly not refer to Youtube as e-learning, or a Skype call with them when I’m working away as an “e-meeting” or “conference call”.
It just is…well..what it is. I use Skype as a verb these days, like Google and Hoover.

So I think, as the new academic term approaches. We should stand up, unite, and finally drop the “e” in e-learning . It could be quite liberating.

Yes, teaching and learning uses technology. Let’s get over it. It’s just learning.

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