There’s an important distinction to be made between training and education. In simplest terms, education is concerned with the nature of a topic, whereas training is concerned with what can be accomplished after it’s completed. Generally speaking, education requires critical thinking and training requires memorization and organizational skills. When we think of traditional eLearning, we think that the transfer of skills, knowledge, and attitudes limits its scope to training. With the increasing quality of courseware and the implementation of blended approaches, however, we’re starting to see a rise in the use of eLearning in universities.
Sometime ago, I read about undergraduate-level engineering courseware being used in universities. This sort of blended learning might sound as though it’s just training at the university level. Most of this courseware is limited to rote learning. As professors learn about the multitude of advantages, however, I think we’ll start to see universities embrace technology in both the sciences and arts.
At this week’s Brain Summit, Alan November discussed the influence and future of technology in education. In his keynote presentation, “Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning,” November described how access to information and communication tools can empower educators and allow them to focus on the unique learning needs of individual students. He’s also written books on how technology can be used to help students become critical thinkers and how educators can utilize technology to enhance classroom teaching. If he’s right, we might see eLearning in our universities sooner than most people expected.