What Makes E-Learning 2.0 Better

In 1999 and early 2000 I was part of the Cisco e-learning architecture team. At the time, it seemed as though e-learning—which basically encompasses various forms of electronically supported teaching and learning—was poised to become the Internet’s first true killer app.

E-learning in the late 1990s and early 2000s was largely defined by a combination of vendors, academic and standards groups, and various technology evangelists. Their combined vision is what we’ll refer to as e-learning 1.0. Many of us on the Cisco team and other technologists sharply disagreed with that vision, and part of what we were doing was helping to define an alternative to it.

E-Learning 1.0, Defined

E-learning 1.0 is a highly structured approach to learning content development, with emphasis on testing and assessment. It takes a courseware approach and development of unique standards rather than focusing on exploitation of emerging Internet standards. It is expert-based, costly to produce, and not interoperable, by its very nature.

The assessment-based paradigm adds cost to content creation

Why did e-learning 1.0 turn out this way? It evolved not from the Internet revolution, but rather from the development of computer-based training standards and technology as well as instructional design methodology. Some of us began describing the alternative view back in 2000 as e-learning 2.0.

Twelve years have passed, and e-learning 1.0 failed to become the Internet killer app and massive industry we had hoped it might be and instead retrenched alongside the traditional education industry. Now, though, we’re beginning to witness an absolute revolution in education, as the first wave of e-learning 2.0 capability is hitting the mainstream.

E-Learning 2.0, Defined

E-learning 2.0 is a learner-centric paradigm for developing content, entirely focused on existing and emerging common Internet standards for disseminating knowledge. Not course-focused, it rather empowers “learning paths” by making inter-operable content available. Any content anywhere on the Internet can, by definition, be considered learning content in e-learning 2.0.

The move is happening in ways we probably couldn’t have predicted in 2000: through social media, iPods and iPads, wikis and blogs and YouTube. Here are some examples of where e-learning 2.0 is happening:

  • The Kahn Academy
  • Massive open online courses at Stanford, MIT and elsewhere. Earlier open courseware initiatives have been scrapped in order to move towards video and PowerPoint-based content.
  • Crashcourse, a channel on YouTube.

All of these new delivery channels have certain characteristics in common:

  • They are all based upon common Internet standards.
  • They have tended to open up content creation to an ever wider circle of creators.
  • They have reduced the complexity and costs associated with creating and deploying content.
  • They have made content universally accessible and available.
  • They provide content that has value outside of any specific course—and eventually the ability to mix and match that content will come close to our original concept of learning objects, even if now they may only be orchestrated through playlists.
  • Many do not require or include assessments; this will facilitate a move towards dynamic and individualized testing. However, none of that occurs up front and thus doesn’t affect the costs of content creation. Where and when assessments are included, they are being provided using the same standards and technologies common to development of all other Web content (this includes Semantic Web standards).

We’re still fairly early on, but the shift is happening, and it will have a profound impact on every level of education, from basic pedagogy to the cost of getting a college degree. We’re

Image: e-Learning [Bigstock]

4 Responses to “What Makes E-Learning 2.0 Better”

  1. Stephen
    I expected a lot from your article but found almost nothing new .

    You left writing with a ” We’re ”

    What does that mean ?

    Yes elearning has alot for solving the education prob lem of the USA but people like you can not convince the people of USA and the government that ” online is good and better than f2f in general ” in 20 years .
    Now thanks to MIT, Stanford Harvard with what I call ” NEW ONLINE ” = NOL

    ONLINE must be delivered by the best schools of the world
    Then those attracts the millions, cost becomes nill ,
    Then people can get degrees from best schools at a least price . That simple .

    • The article was not meant to be a comprehensive survey on the topic but I will be writing a lot more about it. One thing though that I have to disagree with is your focus on “quality.” This is precisely the focus that has held back online learning for so long. The emphasis on perceived quality (e.g. it has to come from one of the best institutions) leads inevitably to two outcomes – 1, the cost per learning unit increases, and 2, the total quantity of accessible content decreases.

      Ultimately it is the learner and not the MIT or Harvard or other handful of “best schools” that must determine quality. The universe of content that will become available once we begin thinking like that will dwarf the sum of all learning materials we have now. and yes more is what’s better…

  2. Mr. Lahana’s article is correct within the constraints he has chosen. What might be addressed is the second reason elearning has morphed into perhaps its third iteration, 3.0. That’s the tools and technologies, delivery systems and opportunities to amplify the participation of learners has invited the delivery of content (missing from this article) to be designed and delivered in more compelling ways. It’s great to see the industry progressing and worthy of an analysis of why we are where we are…but how learning in transferring is really the story. And story it is. Unless learning designers leverage what we know about how to education online…and take advantage of authoring tools, cooperative learning, social media, mLearning and the techniques that can make access to content accessible, Mr; Lahana is leaving out perhaps the most important insights in the field.

    • This article was less focused on the current tools used to build courses and yes there is likely to be an learning 3,0 – but the problem is we haven’t embraced (as an industry) the principles of Learning 2.0 yet. Those principles are:

      1 – Use existing web standards (instead of learning specific ones)
      2 – Focus on accessibility and interchangeable content (as opposed to monolithic courses)
      3 – Focus on allowing learners to drive content design and use.
      4 – Don’t require assessment to be “built in”

      The ultimate delivery system for learning will never be an LMS – it will be the web browser mixing a variety of services (all which utilize the same standards and make import and export of any content available as a learning experience both individually and collaboratively).

      Learning 3.0 will leverage Semantic technology and big data but those considerations are less important than the core premise for what online learning actually represents – which is quite simply the single biggest revolution in how humans learn since the development of the liberal arts curriculum in Ancient Rome. Someday soon the notions of standard degrees will likely be arcane as everyone has the power to build their own learning experience and gain credit for them…