During the past 6 years I have had the remarkable experience of taking an idea about predictive analytics all the way from brain-storming with smart, crazy people who wanted to try something new and different with big data techniques, to getting multiple grants from the Gates Foundation to see if our idea worked. It involved founding a not-for-profit organization to validate our ideas in the commercial ed tech marketplace, to being acquired by Hobsons, an international commercial software provider.
Not bad for someone who had really just wanted a voice in the learning analytics conversation that was more focused on students than VC.
Now that I've had a chance to get settled in a new research job at Hobsons, I've been reflecting on whether or not this work I've been doing in analytics still counts as elearning. I'm thinking that it does. I'm thinking that now, more than ever, using digital tools to extend out expectations of learning is exactly the next phase in learning innovation we elearning advocates have been waiting for.
There are some who continue to describe elearning as the activities utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In these cases, people are typically referring to an online course, program or degree. I get that. It helps define elearning as something distinct from other cognitive or pedagogical pursuits. Some people think of elearning as authoring, or collections of webcasts. I've seen some people say that elearning is dying because mobile learning is about to replace it.
For me, elearning is about leveraging technologies in support of designing, creating, producing, evaluating, distributing and managing learning experiences that engage and inspire, regardless of physical location or time. It's a much bigger tent than content or courseware.
My new job at Hobsons is a research job. I'm exploring learning impact and efficacy in the P-20 learning systems we depend on in the US to prepare our citizenry for college and and career success. I've been working on reports describing the impact of dual credit for accelerating college completion, on the impact of upward transfers from community colleges to completion institutions, on online learning efficacy, on the value of exploration and engagement in early childhood, the things we can do to support learning success among non-traditional students.
I'm amazed to see, in all these discussions, the degree to which elearning has evolved beyond content and courseware. Today elearning is more about personalized, interactive, responsive experience. If ed tech is where we concentrate on better tech tools, these days elearning encapsulates all we have learned to do to extend digitalization into our teaching and learning, education and training practices, constructs and values.
All this reflection made me realize I need a place to reflect on the transformative evolution of our practice as tech changes our expectations of our learning lives.
Looks like it's time to get back on the eLearning Roadtrip.