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3pLearning, vLearning and eLearning +++

Donald G. Perrin

In the beginning was the word...

It was used for tutoring by Socrates, and lecturing by men of religion. And the word was good. Men inscribed words in stone and on papyrus, and replicated it using wooden blocks and ink. Now words were cheap, and could be transmitted to millions of people.

Distance learning was invented using a principle called correspondence. It used Print, Paper and the Postal service (3pLearning). The word was good. It was circulated widely and the people became educated. They took jobs in the 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 (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 for a short while during the long teaching day. And sometimes the word was OK.

But academicians could not set the 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 the 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 of collecting money without calling it taxes, and the result was better. Many learners were lost in cyberspace, and many teachers failed the technology test, because technology was advancing at the speed of light. And the word was corrupted because teachers and scholars did not use their spell checkers because they 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 it's half-life so that learning to access knowledge 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 computer locked up in exams. And Microsoft was punished by the Courts. And the new tools fell into the hands of wizards and game makers and purveyors of evil. The towers crumbled, viruses corrupted the word, and the world returned to ignorance from which it had come.

And learning was reborn in virtual universities and blended programs because there were still persons who valued learning for self-improvement and economic growth. And universities of old rose virtually from the ashes lwith hope and assurance for the future.


First published in USDLA Journal: http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/JUN02_Issue/editor.html)

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