Vol. 16 : No. 6< >
3pLearning, vLearning and eLearning
Donald G. Perrin Ph.D., Editor
In the beginning was the word. It was used for tutoring by Socrates and for lecturing by men of wisdom. And the word was good.
Men inscribed words in stone and on papyrus, and replicated it using wooden blocks and ink. This made words cheap and they could be transmitted to millions of people.
Distance learning was invented using a principle called correspondence. At first it used Print, Paper and the Postal service (3pLearning). And the word was good. It was circulated widely and people became educated. They took jobs in cities and enjoyed libraries and museums and theatres. And some became lawyers and politicians.
3pLearning was challenged by video (vLearning). Video enabled instant communication to thousands of learners at the same time. Now it was possible for one teacher to teach to a thousand classrooms and save 999 teacher salaries, but the result was not good. The Ford Foundation in Hagerstown, Maryland and Anaheim, California, tried to make it work, but students needed supervision, discipline, control, punishment, and on occasion feedback, tutoring, and nurturing. So the best teachers taught on television so others could sit in the back of the room and rest awhile in the long teaching day. And sometimes the word was OK. But academicians could not set clocks on their VCRs and they lost all sense of time.
Then came computers, networks, and interactive technology that extended the works of great teachers to masses above the digital divide. And inequity grew so that the rich learned more and earned more, and those less fortunate became slaves of ignorance. And the government intervened with eRate and other ways to collect money without calling it taxes, and the result was better. Learners were lost in cyberspace, and teachers failed the technology test because information technology was advancing at the speed of light. And the word was corrupted because teachers and scholars did not use spell checkers and did not know how.
Information technologies stored all knowledge in computers and only librarians knew how to access it. Knowledge became intellectual property, a commodity to be traded by the wealthy and plagiarized by the masses. The explosion of knowledge reduced its half-life so learning to access information was more important than knowledge itself. A great ignorance spread across the land. People needed machines to do simple addition and computers to find information. Many students failed because their computers locked up. And Microsoft was punished by the Courts for errors in its operating system.
And the new tools fell into the hands of wizards, game makers, e-commerce, and purveyors of evil. Towers crumbled, worms and viruses corrupted the word, and the world returned to ignorance from which it had come. And eLearning rose from the ashes to do battle with "Back to Basics," the McGuffy Reader, and outmoded testing programs.