This was a recent topic among the team here at d’Vinci. The result was a surprising consensus that the term “digital learning” should be used differently than the term “eLearning.”
According to our team members, digital learning should only be used when referring to the learner’s perspective. The digital learner participates in digital learning by consuming digital content, using digital tools and engaging in digital experiences.
On the other hand, eLearning refers to the format and distribution methods that an organization uses to intentionally provide learning content and experiences to targeted learners. To look at it another way, we don’t develop and deliver digital learning. And, we don’t have eLearners participating in eLearning when they are using online tools and consuming content that result in learning. Simple enough, we should probably stop there.
Of course, there are also the terms web-based training, online learning and distance learning. In requests for proposals, we also still see classics like computer-based training and multimedia-based training. We also see some less typical terms like eCourse development, technology-based course development and interactive course development. In most of these cases, these are just other ways to say eLearning.
While the distinction between digital learning and eLearning may be holding up for now, I think the term eLearning may be experiencing the beginning of its end. The practice of eMarketing has pretty much been renamed digital marketing, and even eCommerce is looking more like it will become digital commerce. So, in a few years, we may not be putting an uncapitalized “e” in front of any word. Come to think about it, maybe we just drop the “e” and the “digital” and just go with “learning.” That might create less confusion and put the emphasis on the outcome and the learner. What do you think?