Digital Learning, online learning, eLearning – what’s the difference? In practical terms, very little, since people use the terms interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences.
The Digital Umbrella
Digital is an overall term, it encompasses online and eLearning. Digital learning is facilitated by technology, so it includes online learning and eLearning, but also classroom and F2F learning where technology is used.
There are some very exciting developments in educational technology that have huge potential.
We’re all familiar with the concepts of data, analysis and reporting, and the way in which they can impact learning, from predicting behaviour to enable the right interventions to be made during the learning, to evaluating and improving the elearning experience for the next group of learners.
Virtual and augmented reality are breaking through to the mainstream, with museums and scientific institutions in particular already making use of the technology to excite and educate the public. The NASA ‘Access Mars’ experience is a great example of this.
Interactive 3D holograms are already starting to be used in the medical profession, and we are all benefiting from simulations such as the model heads that are used by student dentists before they are let loose on real people.
Artificial intelligence and personalised learning, and mobile technology including wearable tech could all have a major impact in the future.
Online learning is learning that is delivered over the internet, so it’s great for distance learning. It can include the courses with videos, discussion boards, online classrooms (the educational version of a webinar) and virtual worlds such as Second Life.
This is the majority of the digital learning that you will probably encounter.
eLearning is teaching using electronic resources, generally based around the use of a computer or mobile device. Learners may be offline and use CD-ROMS or other data transfer devices. This may seem odd to those of us living in countries with good network infrastructures, but in many parts of the world internet coverage is patchy and unreliable, so it can be worth considering for some markets.