That august debating institution The Oxford Union – no less – focused its attention on the world of e-learning on 30th September when it debated the motion that ‘this house believes that the e-learning of today is essential for the important skills of tomorrow’.


The motion was lost, after learning experts from industry and academia had engaged in a debate at least encouraged, if not sponsored, by the well known e-learning developer, Epic.


According to Niall Sclater, of the Open University: “It became clear during the debate that people had widely differing views of what constituted e-learning, depending on their current position and experience…


“My feeling was that the totality of e-learning today is not a good example of where we need to be going in the future, despite many inspired examples of good practice. Supporting the motion therefore showed complacency and a lack of reality about the huge job we still have to do before learners are experiencing satisfying learning experiences online with ubiquitous high quality interactive content and opportunities to engage effectively with other learners and teachers online.”


Championing the motion, Karuna Sanghvi commented: “The e-learning explosion is still to happen. The internet may have spread faster but has less impact in terms of retention value. E-learning, on the other hand, allows users to keep content, repeat learning and retain learning. Many parts of the world will choose e-learning for tomorrow’s essential skills and use the internet to supplement e-learning.”


Comment: Not having attended the debate, I can’t express an opinion but I applaud those who championed the cause of e-learning to the point where it not only came to the attention of The Oxford Union but also became a topic for debate. Traditionally, it has been only a short step from being a member of The Oxford Union to the corridors of power. If only e-learning could make a similar speedy transition.