Reviewing the trajectories of e-learning

Grainne Conole, eLearning Brothers, Jan 15, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Grainne Conbole offers a timeline history of e-learning with quite a bit of discussion for each item, ranging from learning objects to virtual worlds to MOOCs. I like the idea, but I would probably tell a different story. I'd draaw out the discussion of distance learning and learning media, mentioning (for example) Australia's School of the Air. Programmed learning should get its own section, because it was so influential. Videotables (and later, CDs) were important (and are the major reason we use the term e-learning instead of online learning). Bulletin Boatrd services were important in the late 1980s, and text-based interfaced (FTP, Gopher, IRC, MUD) were important before the web began. Between the late 1980s and early 2000s Usenet and mailing lists were very important forms of online learning. The learning management system predates learning objects. I would talk about the introduction of RSS in 1998 and the Open Archives Initiative, as well as the Budapest Open Access Declaration of 2002, all important forerunners of open educational resources (OERs).

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