The end of eLearning

the new EU Open Education portal

The new EU Open Education portal

Do you remember eLearning?

Back in 2000, the European Union launched its “eLearning action plan” to enhance the use of “technology serving lifelong learning”. By adding an ‘e’ to learning, we thought we could invent a brand new vision for learning. But it didn’t happen. Technology was simply not good enough, and our minds not ready. We ended up creating more, or less, user-friendly online training courses that were commercialised by training companies as a substitute for traditional courses. But learning remained mostly untouched, still based on a top-down relationship between teacher and learners. The classroom — even in its virtual definition — was still based on a conventional concept well described by Sir Ken Robinson in his popular TED conference.

We desperately needed a vision for the future of learning. Said another way, we had to “open up education” and get rid of the ‘e’!

Open education has nothing to do with eLearning. It is about learning in an innovative way. ELearning didn’t imply any cooperative scheme between teachers and learners on the one hand, and among learners on the other. “Opening up education” means enabling “all individuals to learn anywhere, anytime, through any device, with the support of anyone”.

The new Openeducationeuropa portal, launched two weeks ago, substitutes the former European Union eLearning portal.  The change is much more than semantic as it may very well mark the end of eLearning.

Last month, French academic journal “Etudes” published a brilliant essay by a teacher – Frank Damour – entitled “Comment Internet m’a ré-appris pourquoi j’enseigne” (How I learned again to teach thanks to the internet).

“Learn again to teach” — this is exactly what “open education” means: the opportunity to question and reinvent practices, taking the best of technology to get closer to the core of the teaching and learning processes. Damour highlights the importance of dialogue in and out of the classroom as an essential component of his work. The “flipped” school experience — well described by Tina Rosenberg in her blog “Fixes” — tells us more about the teacher feeling like an “educational artist”.

Open education means not only “creating interactive lessons and exciting content” but “having much more time to educate”.

This is the priority given to “educating” that marks the difference with eLearning — and condemns it.

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