Before I talk about the new phase of learning, a brief peep into the past will explain how learning has evolved over the years. In the beginning, audience existed. But it never exercised its role. Later, Guttenberg’s invention of printing press helped in addressing mass audiences. Newspapers emerged and the audience base grew larger. This was followed by radio and television. Television still rules. But not much learning is taking place as its space is dominated by soaps, weepy stuff, and entertainment.
In addition, different media—text, audio, and video—are used to make learning engaging. As Marshall McLuhan wrote, “All media are active metaphors in their power to translate experience into new forms.” That said, the client’s needs drive the course design because eventually everything boils down to the client’s business realities. For example, if the client wants a jazzy presentation, customized content is the right fit. In this case, Flash developers are put to good use to come up with eye-catching interfaces incorporating different levels of interactivity. If the content is to be presented with a low level of interactivity, rapid e-learning authoring tools like Articulate and Captivate come in handy. Interactivity is a must and not having it could turn the audience into a passive crowd. The content should be designed to hook the audience. Essentially, an explorative approach should be used rather than an explanatory one.
E-learning has grown since its beginning. From a billboard-like presentation it has transformed into a movie, radio station, text encounter, or a blend of all these. Game-based e-learning is now fast catching up. E-learning may be short of tactile (touch) experience. However, different techniques (scenarios, simulations, case studies, and RPGs) used to present content, combined with good interface and interactivity, can lend a sense of reality to what learners learn and how the content is mediated. When the learner forgets that he is interacting with a machine, s/he is lost in the content. This leads to immersive learning. Better said, virtual reality comes close to reality. Thus, in e-learning, content is no longer a king with a sword. It is a magician with a wand.