For David Guralnick, PhD, the evolution of online learning is at a critical point, in terms of how technology is used for both higher education and workplace performance.

“The big concept we’ve heard for years has been ‘access,' but the key that’s missing is 'quality,'" he explains.  "Do these experiences help people really learn; or, in corporate situations, do they help people perform the skills they need on the job?  Research and experience both tell us people often learn best by doing, not just by watching a lecture passively.”

Hands-on learning at your fingertips

"The potential to completely change the way people learn and perform, using technological advances, research results and creative approaches, is vast.”

Dr. Guralnick, the president of International E-Learning Association and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, believes learning environments should be designed with more flexibility for personalization. He also stresses the benefits of online collaboration and realistic games.

“Suppose a company needs to train its sales force. Instead of having them read about the principles of good sales, one way to do that effectively would be to create an in-depth online simulation in which the salesperson works with prospects, coming up in video clips, and perhaps has a mentor help him or her through the process and provide feedback on the performance."

“The goal is to continue thinking about how to best create experiences that help people learn and improve job performance, rather than trying to simply translate the fairly ineffective methods we have in traditional schools.  The potential to completely change the way people learn and perform, using technological advances, research results and creative approaches, is vast.”