E-learning projects in enterprises, universities and schools have become more widespread but in the retail market, sales figures of courseware have slackened. Policy makers have freed budgets for more internet connections for all learners and to have them connected in networks. Learners and trainers have widely started to use the internet for their own communication, information, practice and testing but how much of the e-learning supply has found its way in a systematic application? E-learning finds itself at the tipping point of massively taking-up, but there is some hampering. The ICT community itself is convinced of the usefulness of ICT and so is a majority of management and end-users, but the work and study force at large apparently is not. E-learning has not yet delivered the promises made in its earlier years. We argue, though, that e-learning has matured into a next stage, beyond the initial image of silver bullet. We call this evolution a transition from first to second generation. We will first map out this evolution and indicate some pitfalls. From this comparison, we will derive the dimensions that are critical for making e-learning more successful. We will put forward that technology is only one out of six dimensions of the framework we here present, the 6C learning framework.
A dream, not come true?
Five to ten years ago ‘e-learning’ promised learning anytime, anywhere, anything. In 1990, O. Foelsche stated that ‘for several reasons the creation of an integrated environment has proved daunting until now’ (Foelsche , 1990 p. 178). E-learning was a hype; it was technology that would thoroughly and immediately change schooling. EuroCall 1998, the international conference on language learning and information technology was called From classroom teaching to worldwide learning, with six participants from university language centers all eager to feel the ‘change in the air’ as it was announced at the opening speech by the conference organisor, prof. dr. M. Goethals. Later, (Sweeney, 2005) eyebrows started to frown with students, employees, trainers and managers when a likely statement about ‘e-learning’ is used. At first there were the luddites (Baten, Vanparys, 1995) and although teachers and learners have not been adversarial, they indeed ask ‘how and why’-questions rooted in the needs of the learners. Carol A. Chapelle (2001, p.3) stated that ‘ the question today is how can we best use the emerging technologies (…) that we must better understand our needs in foreign language teaching.’ On the whole, learners do not doubt technology. They realise technology can tackle wide-scale applications as it is available and ready for e-learning. But they do not take for granted that e-learning is the magic key to overall success.(to be continued)