Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I don't get e-learning 2.0

So I find blogs like Examples of eLearning 2.0 sort of curious.

* Alongside Formal Learning
o Blog as writing tool
o Wiki as a collaborative learning tool
* Editable reference materials (Wiki)
o Internal / External Product information
o Process information
o Sales scenarios
o Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) / support information
o Online reference / glossary
* Experience Capture
o New-hire blog
o Maintaining a “lab or project notebook”
* RSS Reader, Podcasts - Steady Drip

While these examples make sense and I've been using (and advocating the use of) wikis as fundamental tools within teams since 2003 ever since I ran across the Cisco Engineering Wiki which ran MoinMoin, I just don't get why folks are trying to lump in these core technologies as "e-learning."

RSS, Blog, Wikis, etc. are fundamental workplace tools in the same way that other tools (office applications, web applications, the Internet etc.) are also tools, but think of the absurdity of making a big deal of Excel as an "e-learning 1.0 tool."

Is it because corporate trainers (I am one now, so I can critique them) are so backward and 2.0-illiterate? Is that why this is a big deal? To me if you make the definition of "e-learning" so expansive (and yes, I realize there is overlap between e-learning and knowledge management but to classify knowledge management activities as learning seem silly) it makes the term almost meaningless. Yes, everything you do should be about learning and creating knowledge, but this is different from Learning with a Big-L and little-l learning. What am I missing here?


Guy Boulet said...


I kind of agree with you, Web 2.0 tools are nothing more than tools. I can learn as much from a magazine article or a static web page than from a blog or a wiki. The only difference is that one allows me to contribute while the other does not.

If we want to tag Web 2.0 tools as learning tools, we should also put the water cooler, the coffee machine, the telephone and others as learning tools because they can also be used to share knowledge (well you do not share it throug the water cooler, but around it).

My point is that we learn all the time in everything we do. If you take a culinary course, you'll use all kind of tools to learn how to cook: spoons, skillets, bowls, etc. Does that make them learning tools? No, they are cooking tools used in a learning environment.

The only new thing with learning 2.0 is the tools. Collaboration and networking existed way before the computer era.

Matt Franz said...

Thanks. And something I forget to mention , realistically there is not that much difference between USENET groups from the 80s and 90s and blogs. Users post articles and other respond to them. The real only difference that instead of using NNTP you are using HTTP and a different applications is being used to access the data. Same sort of collaboration and communication.

Dave Ferguson said...

It's true that collaboration and networking existed before the computer era, but your channels and your opportunities were in general far more restricted -- by geography, by cost (remember long-distance charges), by the odds against meeting up with someone in order to begin the networked relationship.

I recently came across a quote attributed to Kent W. Seibert: Reject the myth that we learn from experience, and accept the reality that we learn by reflecting on experience.

Learning strictly from experience is not far from operant conditioning; it's a slow process.

Reflection makes the process more active, more deliberate; it's still slow, and sometimes uncomfortable as we try to make sense of what we've experienced.

The broad label of "web 2.0" includes the ability to contribute, rather than simply consume. To say "the only difference" is that you can contribute is like saying the only difference between a AAA TripTik and Google maps is that Google lets you use a mouse.

The usenet comparison isn't bad, except that usenet was (relatively speaking) a small and specialized community. The steep learning curve was far more daunting than the one a newcomer has to deal with in order to comment on a blog or edit a corporate or educational wiki.

Don't the the "2.0" stuff put you off (I've already seen "3.0" hats being hosted on sticks by some hyper-early adopters).

The real secret is that learning isn't something that organizations do to individuals. It's something individuals do. Organizations can foster learning, tools can assist it. And some tools are better than others: you could shovel your walk with a pancake turner, and you could stir the pancake batter with a wood chisel.