The eLearning module’s new clothes

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Good eLearning is about as rare as good poetry. We’re led to believe that if it’s interactive and gamified, then it’s both contemporary and cutting edge. But what happened to substance? It’s all very well having a stylish looking module, equipped with all the bells and whistles money can buy but does it adequately communicate a message? Basically, is anybody actually learning anything?

Substance comes from knowledge and knowledge comes from thorough research. A good eLearning module is not unlike an essay that conveys a central contention. Every central contention is built upon a solid research platform that endeavours to build an argument.

So, what’s the difference between an argument and an opinion? Well, an argument is based on research, and an opinion is not. Simple as that. Good eLearning modules should never be regarded as opinions, otherwise the learner will, and shouldn’t, have any faith in the product.

Substance is easy to spot. It’s the sentence that’s packed with water tight ideas, garnished with a modest sense of confidence.

I think that these sentences have been lost in the drive to make eLearning modules look ‘pretty’. Now, I’m not against bells and whistles, in fact I extol their shiny virtues. However, they’re often used to mask the fact that the central contention of the module has no soul, and is devoid of any research.

It’s a bit like the story about the Emperor’s New Clothes, a tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a couple of cowboy weavers who promise the Emperor a new suit of invisible clothes but who are incompetent, and bestow upon him an invisible suit. They assure him that it’s the height of fashion and he’s so vain that he believes them and parades through the town completely naked. This is what we call a logical fallacy; faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument.

We’re told that these bells and whistles in a module are ‘state of the art’, the way forward in eLearning but more often than not they mask the fact that the soul of the module, the argument, is missing, or incomplete.

Education is regarded as one of the pinnacles of so-called civilization. However, it’s merely become another product we take to market, and so many of these modules we churn out are actually naked, logical fallacies walking down the main street like the vain Emperor, unaware of the mocking crowd.

Ps. We don’t build modules like that…

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About callumrscott

I am a Learning Consultant and writer, who oscillates between being elated and very angry and sometimes both at the same time. I have been studying many forms of masculinity for almost 15 years now, in particular, hyper and protest masculinity. My other main field of research is transgression or the rituals of transgression and the performative nature of this behaviour. Apart from researching and developing eLearning solutions, I enjoy a good pint and I live in a flat in Brunswick, close to my favourite place, Barkly Square. My greatest disappointment in life is that my first memory turned out to be a lie. I didn’t lose a red wellie on a beach in Orkney and now I have no first memory, just a lot of stories about alcohol and bad decisions. Take it. All the best - Callum R. Scott

3 responses to “The eLearning module’s new clothes”

  1. Oscar keary says :

    Great to hear your words of wisdom again Callum. Take it!

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