Media instruction has always been a designers’ medium. So it is today with e-Learning.

In fact, the only applicable phrase for effective e-Learning instruction — “instructional integrity” — does not belong to the new Merlins with their magic technology. That phrase is the province of flesh and blood human beings, the instructional designers of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Media instruction has never been an evolving electronic gadgetry world. It is rather one more step in a natural historical chain that has led us from Socrates and Plato to the e-Learning world of today.

E-Learning and multiple-media instruction is part of the informational and instructional evolutionary process that has taken us beyond storytelling, the printing press, and radio wave transmission. It is a communication tool. It makes possible more efficient information transfer and more effective learning.

Who then, among us, must we look to — to lead us forward? Certainly not the manufacturers of technology platforms. By their very nature, they must remain “box sellers.” Gutenberg spent his adult life perfecting a machine that was instrumental in bringing knowledge to the world he knew. His contemporaries owed him a great debt. But, knowledge was attained only through the conceptual transfer that took place between the printed words of an author and the eyes and minds of that author’s readers.

So it is today with e-Learning. The promise of will only be attained when the applications designer can effectively communicate with the users’ senses — be they sight, sound, or touch. The human animal remains a sense-taught creature. And, e-Learning provides the best artificial platform available today for stimulating the senses of a learner.

Not everyone can be an effective e-Learning designer. In fact, very few can. But, the few that can should lead us. Those few will show us how to use the new e-Learning technologies for better education and training. Some will build effective commercial programs. Some will build effective custom application programs. But, the few that can will build those education and training applications around one basic tenet: learner-controlled instruction.

We must guard ourselves against infatuation. All the new technologies hold promise. All can be effective tools, but none of them are answers. The answers of this new decade will come from an emerging breed of “authors” and “artists.” Those who know that training and education are irrevocably linked today — linked by the necessity of transferring control of learning to the student-learner.

And, time is short. Our world — its schools and its businesses — have a lot of “catching up” to do.

More next Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning