I wonder what’s next? The evolution of e-learning

When I first started my career in the production of educational content (around 1985) I was involved in producing educational videos that were copied and posted to TAFE colleges and students scattered throughout the state. To this day I don’t really know how the topics for production were chosen – but I do recall making 19 x 1/2 hr programs on Horse Care and Management. There was also a Wood Machining series, how to operate a GTO Printing Press and something about lawn bowls that I have tried to erase from my memory.
Aussat launch

Aussat launch

In Queensland at least educational video distribution was superseded by satellite technology (with the launch of Aussat in late 1985) – where you didn’t have to copy and post the tapes anymore – you could hit the play button and everyone could see it at once (if you had a satellite dish). In fact we could do live broadcasts and viewers could even ring-in and ask questions ‘live on air’. But of course everyone had to be at the same place at the same time, and had to travel to distributed viewing centres.
PictureTel Unit

PictureTel Unit

Not long after this (around 1996/7) videoconferencing started to gain traction. I recall big lumbering (and expensive) PictureTel units plugged into multiple ISDN lines. You would not have one at home – but they we put in central locations around Australia (and there were bureau services to help you find a suitable room). Communication was face to face, good quality and in real time. But you had to find a room, pay expensive line costs, and book each others time. Far from the ultimate solution.
So we started making interactive CD-Roms and DVD’s – But once the product left your hands you could not make changes or updates to the content. Learning using these tools was a solitary business and they often made expensive coffee coasters.
DVD coffee coaster

DVD coffee coaster

Learning Management Systems came next – you could change and update the content whenever you wanted – and you could stimulate the users with online discussions, quizzes or more advanced interactions.
Zoom forward to 2014 and we find ourselves with all manner of different learning platforms, technologies and techniques. Some of these are based on our current technologies (such as mobile learning), new platforms (such as Wikis), the emergence of social media (such as FOAMed) and others are simply based around our short attention spans (chunking) and/or our desire to be entertained and stimulated (gamification).
Listen to the e-learning virtual classroom, broadcast Friday 28th February 2014 at 11am (Qld) 12noon (NSW/Vic) at researchweek.com.au for a live interactive virtual classroom journey through a random set of current eLearning terminologies and best practice.
I hope we will all learn something new.
It should be fun (but YMMV)!
Lex Lucas (ACRRM)

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