What does eLearning mean in your organization? I’ve learned that whenever we’re talking about online learning assets, it’s better not to assume! Is it a standalone "module" that looks like a self-directed PowerPoint deck? Or is it any combination of interactive files, media and learning activities— basically any learning that isn't delivered in person in a classroom?
With any gig I take on, I always check with my client to clarify what we both mean by eLearning. It's surprising sometimes to see how close or far our definitions can be! Having worked with a variety of customer and employee-facing online learning materials, my own definition of eLearning has broadened over the last few years. I’ve embraced a more inclusive understanding of eLearning than its traditional definition, in line with many of the organizations I serve.
Terms often used for eLearning
Don’t forget about the course authoring tools in your LMS
How eLearning is built (or authored, to use industry jargon) has a wider array of options now too. Formerly, eLearning mostly referred to custom developed content using a third-party authoring tool like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. Period. And that’s still completely acceptable and highly impactful. But many organizations forget that they can author courses directly in their LMS (arguably a better strategy than third-party applications, depending on your LMS, of course!) If you haven’t explored using your LMS itself to develop an eLearning course, this might be the time.
What are some effective course objects (or rich media assets) used in eLearning?
Depending on what your organization needs and how it makes sense to deliver them, any combination of these learning assets or course objects could form an engaging eLearning experience:
There is a valuable movement happening in the eLearning industry right now; we’re finally shifting away from thinking of learning as a course and more as an experience. Learning doesn’t begin and end within the confines of an eLearning course—it happens on the job, during a commute, in discussion on social media, and a million other digital ways. Thinking of eLearning in the broader context of the experience will help you build more impactful online learning too.
Pro tip: Spend a few minutes defining what you mean by eLearning within your organization, and ensure you have the same discussion too with any external contractors. This way, you'll all be on the same page and can get started collaborating!
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Leah Chang is a learning consultant with 16+ years of experience designing online and classroom learning. In her spare time she goes on self-propelled travel adventures and tries to grow vegetables.