The word ‘courses’ is now extremely ‘vieux chapeau’, according to leading edge e-learning commentator Clark N Quinn. Writing for the eLearning Guild’s website, Quinn argues that, for all the sophistication of our technology, our view of learning has not really changed. In an era of semantic web, augmented reality, virtual worlds and more, we are still talking about ‘courses’. Yet, in business, our goals are not learning but, rather, improving performance. And courses – particularly the ‘event’ model for courses – are one of the worst ways to go about achieving learning for performance.

Quinn goes on to say that ‘we need to review recent advances in technology to ascertain the new capabilities they can provide for learning – and then we can revisit how people think and perform. We need to look at models such as spaced practice, social learning, meta-learning, and distributed cognition. With these new technologies and these ways of thinking, we can envision and deliver a richer learning experience that will lead to persistent change in abilities. And that persistent change in our ability to do, is, and has to be, our goal.’

Comment: The demise of the ‘course’ had to happen. It was only a matter of time. The difficulty is what noun can we use to describe ‘a variable amount of learning and performance support material which is probably delivered electronically in some form’? We can all agree that a ‘course’ is not the correct term – not least, as Quinn says, because courses have no direct, provable link to achieving business goals, whereas at least some of this electronically delivered material does.


Has anyone got any ideas? Whatever the answer is, if it wants to be a credible term with ‘real people’ (for example, business leaders), it can’t include the term ‘e’-anything; nor can it include ‘learning’.