Where is the model for e-learning?

With most learning media, there is an expectation of how it should look and behave based on the mass media. We can benchmark what we do against 1000s of everyday examples. We can model our learning videos on what we see on TV and on YouTube. We can model podcasts on what we hear on the radio. We have endless examples from print media and the World Wide Web on which to model our text-based materials. And even when it comes to learning sims, we can relate what we see to our experiences with video games.

But when we think about page/screen-based, tutorial e-learning, there really are no mass media parallels, unless of course you count business presentations, and in most cases they set a very poor example. So, our stakeholders have no standards by which to judge what we produce and no common vocabulary with which to engage with us. As designers, we don’t have that steady stream of everyday examples to give us inspiration. E-learning has no counterpart in the mass media and I believe this explains to some extent why we don’t always achieve the standards we would like to see, even after 30 years of trying.

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