The Cultural Phenom E-learning

 E-Learning Defined

Learning has and will continue to draw the interests of Western society and play a crucial role in its advancement. Historically, vast numbers of records relate the pains professors of philosophy and instructors endured to promote the enlightenment of humanity and the evolution of learning. Great societies formed for the advancement of methods of instruction and cultural exchange such as those of the Egyptian, the Greek and European invention. These societies or institutions whether by governments of philanthropists facilitated learning through multiple means—the European brand seeming to have a far reaching effect on the world as the society or the culture of educational success through the spread of democratic and social governments—such as slavery and missionary work.

The world now stands at a precipice of education through physical conquest in most of Western society and culturally has virtually one area left unexplored, which it currently embarks upon establishing outposts in Western culture and footholds through the education world. This new world of education, e-learning, stands as the final frontier of conquest with possibilities limited only by the technology used to sustain it.

Random searches for the new term e-learning on the World Wide Web will return multiple interpretations of what the word means. In its elemental form, electronic learning seems specific in definition alone—to learn electronically. In the broad definition of the word, e-learning could include any type of learning which occurs using electronic means—technology at all. Wang and Gearhart (2006) refer to e-learning as the medium of learning occurring through electronic media not limited to web-based learning.

“E-learning basically boils down to learning that is facilitated and supported via information and communications technology” as determined by About E-Learning.com. This website goes on to list quite a number of functions that could include the definition of e-learning—admitting that depending on the organization defining the term determines the exclusivity of the word. Another website offers the following explanation of e-learning:

“Education via the Internet, network, or standalone computer. e-learning is essentially the network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. e-learning refers to using electronic applications and processes to learn. e-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM” (Webopidia, 2011, para.. 1)

Noticing from the definition at this website, it repeats many of the same wording that appears at the website prior to it using sweeping definition; however, the latter website does not leave an open interpretation of the definition; rather, it states boldly that it provides an authoritative grasp of the word e-learning. TheDictionary.com website offers simply that e-learning is the “process of learning online, especially via the internet”.

Learning online according to this website concludes the definition of the word though the other sites give a variety of adjectives to describe e-learning as other than via the internet. Dictionary.com also does not list any other uses in defining e-learning other than what appears on the website unlike the About E-learning website, which allows for a broad range of interpretation.

The cultural phenomenon known as e-learning has taken root in society in the past decade and grown in renown among prestigious institutions as the world moves into a technologically based societal structure to meet the growing needs of working adults who require additional training and education, while virtually juggling careers and families. Society shifted from the working-class, middle class family with little need of education to the service-class, middle class family with multiple degrees.

E-learning means web-based learning to most people when questioned about its definition because web-based learning is the type of learning that appears most popular in society and acceptable by society as a genuine form of instruction. A generation will need to pass in order for the e-learning brand of education to acquire the same or close to the same authority as a traditional type of in-class education; however, the way towards such a designation has begun as more institution utilize this form of instruction to progress its members.

As society changes more to focus on individual needs of adults and less on collective education standardization, more student-center programs will develop into e-learning strategies to buy into a market of career oriented individuals. In addition, the growing demands of the previous generations retiring and looking for other mean of society continue to provide avenues for more development in web-based e-learning as opposed to other electronic medium such as CDROM because the access to the software for instruction requires internet alone and not the purchase of hardware to insert in the computer. The evidence of online cultural dominance appears with the advent of the IPOD and the MP3 as preferred modes of entertainment rather than DVD and CD for music and movie enjoyment—both of which allow download directly from the internet. E-learning essentially will become synonymous with web-based learning.

Non-electronic Reference Source

Wang, H., Gearhart, D. L. (2006). Designing and developing web-based instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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