This came about when I was thinking about how our department may have two different focusses, which could be split into two areas. First one being Learning Technologies by us researching, developing, promoting, supporting and evaluating websites and systems to enhance the learning and teaching process. The second area being eLearning where our apprentices are designing and developing eLearning materials for curriculum departments. I wanted to determine if they are different areas or are they one as such.
It then got me thinking about what do these two actually mean? Whilst I have a great understanding of both of them, I thought I would ask out to the super minds on the ALT mailing list of what their views were before I made a judgment.
I'm glad I had a similar view, and it has helped me to clarify and justify my position on both of these areas. Below I've summarised the contributions and my thoughts.
Learning Technologies is about the overall tools and systems that can manage learning, such as publishing software, social media and Virtual Learning Environments. Learning Technologies can be viewed as a toolkit in which they help you to design learning with technology in mind. Learning Technologies should support and enhance face-to-face, blended and self-directed learning methods. You can't use technology for technology sake. It has to be underpinned with pedagogical value and purpose.
eLearning is the pedagogy that can be used within the chosen Learning Technology. eLearning is a process that enables learning to be facilitated and supported appropriately within the chosen technology. eLearning provides the essential pedagogical foundations that is usually missing within the technology. eLearning can appear in many forms such as self-directed learning objects and online participation. However, depending how eLearning is designed it can be both online and offline. At this point, a definition could be that Learning Technologies are the tools and systems that support and carry the eLearning pedagogy.
Furthermore, whilst there are many phrases for this type of learning, design and method, it could be grouped together as digital learning. We should look at what is happening within the entire process of Learning Technology and eLearning and try not to dwell too much on the meaning, as the happening will define the meaning. Digital is a more modern and holistic approach to the pedagogy, processes, tools and systems involved in supporting and designing learning with any technology. However, you could say that the meaning of digital should also include Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills, inclusivity/participation and creating knowledge with others.
In summarising this, I suppose it backs up my recent statement of; if eLearning "was" just copying, pasting and uploading a file, there wouldn't be a wealth of pedagogic and academic research on it. Plus, this kind of discussion all contributes to the never-ending thoughts of what a Learning Technologist should think about and carry on thinking about, which all links into my thoughts on Developing a Learning Technologist.