Where Is the Learning in E-Learning?*
Advances in technology are greatly changing the field of human resource development.163 Develop- ments with the Internet, and increased access to large bandwidth, have made distance learning (or “e-learning”) available to a much larger audience. For instance, information searches are much faster and more powerful today because of Google and other Internet search engines. Training vendors and consultants are much more likely to place their pro- ducts and services on the Web. Whole courses are now offered on-line, with discussions taking place via course management systems (such as Desire to Learn, or D2L). Internet-based collaboration, often called “Web 2.0” applications have prolifer- ated, and are now giving rise to calls for expertise in “e-learning 2.0.”164 Podcasting has increased as a way to provide training content to learners via Apple iPods, MP3 players, or computers. Another example, open sourcing, as demonstrated by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, demonstrates the use of a “wiki,” that is, “a website that allows
the creation and editing of any number of interlinked webpages via a web browser.”
However, with the dizzying growth in the use of technology within HRD, writers such as Gary Woo- dill, former Chief Learning Officer for Operitel Corpo- ration, have questioned how much learning actually takes place online. Many of the criticisms concern inadequate attention paid to assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation issues.167 In Chap- ters 4 through 7, we will discuss these technology issues in more detail, as they relate to each of the four main phases in the HRD process model. Be forewarned, there is good, bad, and “ugly” in the array of technology-based (or technology-enhanced) HRD offerings. While progress has been made, there is much yet to learn con- cerning how to maximize the amount of learning that occurs via technology.
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