Digital Learning – Define it

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When I was a kid I loved playing the game “Jumble” which could be found in virtually every U.S. newspaper that had a comics page.  I normally smoked (i.e. did well) the first couple of jumbles and in many cases, only hit a roadblock on one of them or when trying to figure out the sentence for the whole thing.

And yes, normally the results of the what they were seeking was usually dry and lame (no fun).  Sort of like F2F training! HA, I made a funny. 

I cite “Jumble” here because in the land of online learning, we (the industry) are masters of jumble like points when it comes to our jargon.   Nothing like throwing a bunch of letters and words out there that on their own, create confusion or erroneous assumptions.

Who can forgot our interpretation of what mobile learning is compared to what you think it is?  I still remember the laughter err tears. 

It is with this fond memory that I bring to you the latest term to be spun out – DIGITAL LEARNING


What you call a clock that is not analog”   


Which uh, the answer above is Digital.  Which is ironic because it is words on a blog, which is seen on the net, so it yeah, it is digital in that regards.

In just the past month, I have heard digital learning in

  • LMS provider – “We are a digital learning platform”
  • Consumer –  “We are going to develop a digital learning program”
  • Expert (name to be withheld) – “Digital Learning is the next stage of learning”
  • Another expert (name withheld) “We are in the age of digital learning”
  • Course developer shop – “We can build digital learning”

Now, I can see why digital learning is here and … there and.. over there..

How I define it

When I hear and think of digital learning

  • A course or courses containing multiple pieces of media that is within it interactive, engaging.  Example:  I saw a course developed in 360 cam technology with hot spots, including ones where when you clicked in this 360 imagery course (think like those 360 panoramic things you can do now), another bit of media played.  In one part, there was a “tv” where when you clicked it, a video bit ran, within this 360 style course.   Other media was contained with in it.
  • Digital bits of content – of which interactive media must exist as a component or the content is a standalone

Plus it (digital learning) uses at some point along the way – short or long term, immersive engagement experience – whether it exists now within the course, or as a standalone piece of content or a combination of the two.

When I refer to media in bullet #1, you see the words of “interactive”.  That is because to me digital learning is incorporating interactive media. 

Someone who wants to build a digital learning program, would have the following:

  • An LMS/Learning Platform (or subset)
  • e-learning courses (online learning courses), which might be cited as content, since content is slowly replacing the term courses – as we think of courses – and becoming a catch all to include “courses, videos, audio, images, word docs, PDF,  eBook, a picture of my puppy Voodoo (just seeing if you are paying attention) etc.”
  • Interactive video or interactive media of some type – which… is content! (as we think of content today.  Confused? Good.  No, wait bad.  Usually interactive video would be utilizing video streaming in some form, not a requirement, but more likely in some aspects.
  • VR/AR/MR content (which as noted above, could mean an online course as we think of it, OR bits of content that can be a standalone”

Achieve all that, and you have a digital learning program.   

Thus the term to me, is seen in two parts, one as the standalone tied to types of courses which contain interactive media (and interactive is not just watching a video or clicking on it to stop it) and/or when used as a program that goes beyond just online learning.


Digital Learning Formula (with variables)

Digital Learning in of itself is


Immersive learning (VR/AR/MR) + Interactive media (as a standalone or contained within another interactive piece or pieces of media  = Digital Learning

I listed *Interactive media* as part of the formula, but it will either be within your immersive learning or in your online learning – contained within a course, or as a standalone course or as a piece of content or pieces of content.  The output to the whole digital learning angle here – is a complete engagement experience utilizing learning technology in some form or fashion.

 IL+IM+OL = DLP (See below)

Immersive learning (VR/AR/MR) + Interactive media  + Online learning (aka e-learning)

BUT your digital learning program could equally be


After all, in the new field of immersive, who says you need e-learning for that? 

Jump in now

Someone who wants to jump into digital learning quickly, would use a 360cam to create a “real time” if you will, panoramic scene, then use an overlay to make it more interactive.  Congrats, you have created a piece of digital learning content, which can also be a course.

OR maybe you do the first part, but instead you enable people to record themselves in “real time” within the course itself – each person sees only themselves in the course (I’ve seen it done, and WWOWOWOWOWOW).  Hello, digital learning content, which as noted before can also be a …. what is it?  O U E R C S

As an LMS vendor you can include different types of digital learning – remember it is interactive media within some form of content/course here, so as a stretch you could say that enabling people the ability to web cam or record themselves in real time and push into the LMS, whereas others can see them in “real time” and achieve some level of interactivity with said media.. .”digital learning”.

Something to think about

If I really wanted to stretch the term, and I expect some will, you could argue that the moment we went online using technology to do so, we became digital and therefore digital learning has been here since 1993, Mosaic 2.1 rules!  

I’m not a believer of that camp of thinking.  Folks that do that, are the same ones who state they were doing e-learning (and using the “e” to mean electronic) since the 1960’s with their connected computers that are the size of a small fridge on a LAN. 

That would be saying your COBOL built item which can be seen on a computer screen with green or yellow text, constitutes digital learning.  I mean, it is using technology and technology is digital..

This is giving me a headache, which in some cases, I think is the whole point.

Bottom Line

Let’s take it from the top. (hum if you want, I am)

Simply, to create “digital learning”

it is one part immersive, one part interactive media and two parts gin, no, wait,

it is immersive learning + interactive media (at least one, could be multiple pieces of interactive media) which is either as a standalone thus content, or contained within a course)

Now.  You could toss in OL (online learning) and create your digital learning program, or you could leave it out and still have a digital learning program.

It’s entirely up to you. 

Which is why I believe digital learning isn’t a new state or stage of learning.

Rather it is entirely something


a necessity.

E-Learning 24/7

Update:  I did a podcast years ago, and have received a lot of inquires from readers about having a podcast.  Thus, a new podcast will be up and running in September.  Details soon.  Have ideas on what you would like to hear? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.