E-learning has great potential and the purpose of this blog is to contribute to the achievement of that potential. Here we propose a framework for analyzing the quality of online learning. Using that framework we consider online learning’s various forms, suppliers and users, making what we hope are useful observations and recommendations. We have years of personal and professional experience in online learning, so that we bring a practical dimension to our commentary in addition to an analytical framework.
The primary purpose of e-learning is to apply technology to learning in a way that benefits the learner. A secondary purpose is to cut costs and a tertiary purpose is to expand the reach of learning to people not now able to receive it.
To apply technology to learning in a way that benefits the learner the main requirement is to provide effective courses, for it is in a course that learning is done.
To cut the cost of higher education the main requirement is to manage efficiently the creation and distribution of courses.
To expand the reach of learning to people not now able to receive it the main requirement is to put e-learning on mobile devices which are being distributed in remarkable volume and breadth throughout the world.
What is most important in e-learning is the course – not the program or the class, for it is in the course that the learning is accomplished. Learning is done via a full course, not via course elements or materials; and not via programs that award credentials without real learning to justify them. Much of the discussion of e-learning is of components of learning, not of learning itself, because it is about elements of courses not courses themselves. Thus, online courses are today’s key element of e-learning.
A good online course is not merely a classroom course transferred to a computer. There is much more to it than that. In the next several postings on our blog we will identify several key features of good online courses. These features are essential to a good learning experience for learners.