Electronic learning

Electronic learning (or e-Learning or eLearning) is a type of education where the medium of instruction is computer technology. In some instances, no in-person interaction takes place. "E-learning" is used interchangeably in a wide variety of contexts. In companies, it refers to the strategies that use the company network to deliver training courses to employees. In the USA, it is defined as a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies, mainly Internet or computer-based, to reach learners. Lately in most Universities, e-learning is used to define a specific mode to attend a course or programmes of study where the students rarely, if ever, attend face-to-face for on-campus access to educational facilities, because they study online.

Market

The worldwide e-learning industry is estimated to be worth over 38 billion euros according to conservative estimates, although in the European Union only about 20% of e-learning products are produced within the common market [EC (2000). Communication from the Commission: E-Learning - Designing "Tejas at Niit" tomorrow’s education. Brussels: European Commission] . Developments in internet and multimedia technologies are the basic enabler of e-learning, with content, technologies and services being identified as the three key sectors of the e-learning industry. [Nagy, A. (2005). The Impact of E-Learning, in: Bruck, P.A.; Buchholz, A.; Karssen, Z.; Zerfass, A. (Eds). E-Content: Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp.79-96]

Growth of e-learning

By 2006, nearly 3.5 million students were participating in on-line learning at institutions of higher education in the United States. [ [http://www.sloan-c.org/resources/index.asp "Sloan Consortium"] ] Many higher education, for-profit institutions, now offer on-line classes. By contrast, only about half of private, non-profit schools offer them. The Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, says that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their on-line classes as they are with traditional ones. Private institutions may become more involved with on-line presentations as the cost of instituting such a system decreases. Properly trained staff must also be hired to work with students on-line. These staff members need to understand the content area, and also be highly trained in the use of the computer and Internet. Online education is rapidly increasing, and online doctoral programs have even developed at leading research universities. [Hebert, D. G. (2007). “Five Challenges and Solutions in Online Music Teacher Education,” [http://www.stthomas.edu/rimeonline/ Research and Issues in Music Education] , Vol. 5]

Technology

As early as 1993, Graziadei, W. D. [Graziadei, W.D., 1993. Virtual Instructional Classroom Environment in Science (VICES) in Research, Education, Service & Teaching (REST) [http://www.cni.org/projects/netteach/1993/prop01.html] ] described an online computer-delivered lecture, tutorial and assessment project using electronic Mail, two VAX Notes conferences and Gopher/Lynx [Graziadei, W. D., 1993. Mosaic & Gopher/Lynx [http://www.bio.net/bionet/mm/bionews/1994-February/000966.html] ] together with several software programs that allowed students and instructor to create a Virtual Instructional Classroom Environment in Science (VICES) in Research, Education, Service & Teaching (REST). [http://www.cni.org/projects/netteach/1993/prop01.html] In 1997 Graziadei, W.D., et al., [Graziadei, W. D., et al., 1997. Building Asynchronous and Synchronous Teaching-Learning Environments: Exploring a Course/Classroom Management System Solution [http://horizon.unc.edu/projects/monograph/CD/Technological_Tools/Graziadei.html] ] published an article entitled "Building Asynchronous and Synchronous Teaching-Learning Environments: Exploring a Course/Classroom Management System Solution". [http://horizon.unc.edu/projects/monograph/CD/Technological_Tools/Graziadei.html] They described a process at the State University of New York (SUNY) of evaluating products and developing an overall strategy for technology-based course development and management in teaching-learning. The product(s) had to be easy to use and maintain, portable, replicable, scalable, and immediately affordable, and they had to have a high probability of success with long-term cost-effectiveness. Today many technologies can be, and are, used in e-Learning, from blogs to collaborative software, ePortfolios, and virtual classrooms. Most eLearning situations use combinations of the these techniques.

Along with the terms "learning technology", "instructional technology", and Educational Technology, the term is generally used to refer to the use of technology in learning in a much broader sense than the computer-based training or "Computer Aided Instruction" of the 1980s. It is also broader than the terms "Online Learning" or "Online Education" which generally refer to purely web-based learning. In cases where mobile technologies are used, the term M-learning has become more common. E-learning, however, also has implications beyond just the technology and refers to the actual learning that takes place using these systems.

E-learning is naturally suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term Blended learning is commonly used. E-Learning pioneer Bernard Luskin argues that the "E" must be understood to have broad meaning if e-Learning is to be effective. Luskin says that the "e" should be interpreted to mean exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational in addition to "electronic" that is a traditional national interpretation. This broader interpretation allows for 21st century applications and brings learning and media psychology into the equation.Fact|date=July 2008

In higher education especially, the increasing tendency is to create a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) (which is sometimes combined with a Management Information System (MIS) to create a Managed Learning Environment) in which all aspects of a course are handled through a consistent user interface standard throughout the institution. A growing number of physical universities, as well as newer online-only colleges, have begun to offer a select set of academic degree and certificate programs via the Internet at a wide range of levels and in a wide range of disciplines. While some programs require students to attend some campus classes or orientations, many are delivered completely online. In addition, several universities offer online student support services, such as online advising and registration, e-counseling, online textbook purchase, student governments and student newspapers.

e-Learning can also refer to educational web sites such as those offering learning scenarios, worksheets and interactive exercises for children. The term is also used extensively in the business sector where it generally refers to cost-effective online training.

Services

E-learning services have evolved since computers were first used in education. There is a trend to move toward blended learning services, where computer-based activities are integrated with practical or classroom-based situations.

Goals of e-learning

E-Learning lessons are generally designed to guide students through information or to help students perform in specific tasks. Information based e-Learning content communicates information to the student. Examples include content that distributes the history or facts related to a service, company, or product. In information-based content, there is no specific skill to be learned. In performance-based content, the lessons build off of a procedural skill in which the student is expected to increase proficiency.

Computer-based learning

Computer Based Learning, sometimes abbreviated to CBL, refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes. The concept is generally seen as being distinct from the use of computers in ways where learning is at least a peripheral element of the experience (e.g. computer games and web browsing).

Computer-based training

Computer-based training (CBT) services are where a student learns by executing special training programs on a computer relating to their occupation. CBT is especially effective for training people to use computer applications because the CBT program can be integrated with the applications so that students can practice using the application as they learn. Historically, CBTs growth has been hampered by the enormous resources required: human resources to create a CBT program, and hardware resources needed to run it. However, the increase in PC computing power, and especially the growing prevalence of computers equipped with CD-ROMs, is making CBT a more viable option for corporations and individuals alike. Many PC applications now come with some modest form of CBT, often called a tutorial. Web-based training (WBT) is a type of training that is similar to CBT; however, it is delivered over the Internet using a web browser. Web-based training frequently includes interactive methods, such as bulletin boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, videoconferencing, and discussion threads. Web based training is usually a self-paced learning medium though some systems allow for online testing and evaluation at specific times.

Pedagogical elements

Pedagogical elements are an attempt to define structures or units of educational material. For example, this could be a lesson, an assignment, a multiple choice question, a quiz, a discussion group or a case study. These units should be format independent, so although it may be implemented in any of the following methods, pedagogical structures would not include a textbook, a web page, a video conference or an iPod video.

When beginning to create e-Learning content, the pedagogical approaches need to be evaluated. Simple pedagogical approaches make it easy to create content, but lack flexibility, richness and downstream functionality. On the other hand, complex pedagogical approaches can be difficult to set up and slow to develop, though they have the potential to provide more engaging learning experiences for students. Somewhere between these extremes is an ideal pedagogy that allows a particular educator to effectively create educational materials while simultaneously providing the most engaging educational experiences for students.

Pedagogical approaches or perspectives

It is possible to use various pedagogical approaches for eLearning which include:

* instructional design - the traditional pedagogy of instruction which is curriculum focused, and is developed by a centralized educating group or a single teacher.

* social-constructivist - this pedagogy is particularly well afforded by the use of discussion forums, blogs, wiki and on-line collaborative activities. It is a collaborative approach that opens educational content creation to a wider group including the students themselves.

* Laurillard's Conversational Model [ [http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~rjr/dolweb/docs/laurillardmoddoc.htm Informal description of Laurillard's Model] ] is also particularly relevant to eLearning, and Gilly Salmon's Five-Stage Model is a pedagogical approach to the use of discussion boards [E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online - Gilly Salmon , Kogan Page, 2000, ISBN 0-7494-4085-6 ] .

* Cognitive perspective focuses on the cognitive processes involved in learning as well as how the brain works. [Bloom, B. S., and D. R. Krathwohl. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1]

* Emotional perspective focuses on the emotional aspects of learning, like motivation, engagement, fun, etc. [ Bååth, J. A. (1982) "Distance Students' Learning - Empirical Findings and Theoretical Deliberations"]

* Behavioural perspective focuses on the skills and behavioural outcomes of the learning process. Role-playing and application to on-the-job settings. [Areskog, N-H. (1995) The Tutorial Process - the Roles of Student Teacher and Tutor in a Long Term Perspective ]

* Contextual perspective focuses on the environmental and social aspects which can stimulate learning. Interaction with other people, collaborative discovery and the importance of peer support as well as pressure. [ Black, J. & McClintock, R. (1995) "An Interpretation Construction Approach to Constructivist Design."]

Reusability, standards and learning objects

Much effort has been put into the technical reuse of electronically-based teaching materials and in particular creating or re-using "Learning Objects". These are self contained units that are properly tagged with keywords, or other metadata, and often stored in an XML file format. Creating a course requires putting together a sequence of learning objects. There are both proprietary and open, non-commercial and commercial, peer-reviewed repositories of learning objects such as the [http://www.merlot.org/ Merlot] repository.

A common standard format for e-learning content is SCORM whilst other specifications allow for the transporting of "learning objects" (Schools Interoperability Framework) or categorizing meta-data (LOM).

These standards themselves are early in the maturity process with the oldest being 8 years old. They are also relatively vertical specific: SIF is primarily pK-12, LOM is primarily Corp, Military and Higher Ed, and SCORM is primarily Military and Corp with some Higher Ed. PESC- the Post-Secondary Education Standards Council- is also making headway in developing standards and learning objects for the Higher Ed space, while SIF is beginning to seriously turn towards Instructional and Curriculum learning objects.

In the US pK12 space there are a host of content standards that are critical as well- the NCES data standards are a prime example. Each state government's content standards and achievement benchmarks are critical metadata for linking e-learning objects in that space.

Communication technologies used in e-learning

Communication technologies are generally categorized as asynchronous or synchronous. "Asynchronous" activities use technologies such as blogs, wikis, and discussion boards. The idea here is that participants may engage in the exchange of ideas or information without the dependency of other participants involvement at the same time. Electronic mail (Email) is also asynchronous in that mail can be sent or received without having both the participants’ involvement at the same time.

"Synchronous" activities involve the exchange of ideas and information with one or more participants during the same period of time. A face to face discussion is an example of synchronous communications. "Synchronous" activities occur with all participants joining in at once, as with an online chat session or a virtual classroom or meeting.

Virtual classrooms and meetings can often use a mix of communication technologies.

In many models, the writing community and the communication channels relate with the E-learning and the M-learning communities. Both the communities provide a general overview of the basic learning models and the activities required for the participants to join the learning sessions across the virtual classroom or even across standard classrooms enabled by technology. Many activities, essential for the learners in these environments, require frequent chat sessions in the form of virtual classrooms and/or blog meetings.

E-Learning 2.0

The term e-Learning 2.0 [Karrer, T (2006) What is eLearning 2.0? http://elearningtech.blogspot.com/2006/02/what-is-elearning-20.html] [Karrer, T (2007) Understanding eLearning 2.0 http://www.learningcircuits.org/2007/0707karrer.html] is used to refer to new ways of thinking about e-learning inspired by the emergence of Web 2.0 [Downes, S (2005) E-Learning 2.0. http://www.downes.ca/post/31741] . From an e-Learning 2.0 perspective, conventional e-learning systems were based on instructional packets that were delivered to students using Internet technologies. The role of the student consisted in learning from the readings and preparing assignments. Assignments were evaluated by the teacher. In contrast, the new e-learning places increased emphasis on social learning and use of social software such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and virtual worlds such as Second Life. This phenomenon has also been referred to as Long Tail Learning [Karrer, T (2008) Corporate Long Tail Learning and Attention Crisis http://elearningtech.blogspot.com/2008/02/corporate-learning-long-tail-and.html]

The first 10 years of e-learning (e-learning 1.0) was focused on using the internet to replicate the instructor-led experience. Content was designed to lead a learner through the content, providing a wide and ever-increasing set of interactions, experiences, assessments, and simulations. E-learning 2.0, by contrast (patterned after Web 2.0) is built around collaboration. e-learning 2.0 assumes that knowledge (as meaning and understanding) is socially constructed. Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions. Advocates of social learning claim that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others. [Brown J.S & Adler R, 2008, ‘Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0′, Educause review, Jan/Feb 2008, pp 16-32
]

As one example, Second Life has recently become one of the virtual classroom environments used in colleges and universities, including University of Edinburgh (UK) Princeton University (USA), Rice University (USA), University of Derby (UK), Vassar College (USA), the University of Plymouth (UK) and the Open University (UK), [cite news |first=Quin |last=Parker |title=A second look at school life |url=http://education.guardian.co.uk/elearning/story/0,,2051195,00.html |work=The Guardian |date=2007-04-06 |accessdate = 2007-06-16 ] . In 2007 Second Life started to be used for foreign language tuition [cite news |first=Xavier |last=Dorveaux |title=Apprendre une langue dans un monde virtuel |url=http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0,36-935560,0.html |work=Le Monde |date=2007-07-15 |accessdate = 2007-07-15 ] . Both Second Life and real life language educators have begun to use the virtual world for language tuition. English (as a foreign language) has gained a presence through several schools, including British Council projects which have focused on the Teen Grid. Spain’s language and cultural institute “ [http://www.cervantes.es Instituto Cervantes] ” has an [http://secondlife.cervantes.es island] on Second Life. A list of educational projects (including some language schools) in Second Life can be found on the [http://www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Institutions_and_Organizations_in_SL SimTeach] site. [http://www.slanguages.net SLanguages 2008] was the 2nd annual conference of language education using virtual worlds such as Second Life. The event took place in Second Life at the [http://www.slanguages.net/venue.php EduNation] islands.

There is also an increased use of virtual classrooms (online presentations delivered live) as an online learning platform and classroom for a diverse set of education providers such as [http://www.sbm.temple.edu Fox School of Business for Templer University] , [http://www.gradesgrowtutors.com Grades Grow] , [http://www.mnscu.edu Minnesota State Colleges and Universities] , and [http://www.sachem.edu Sachem] [ [http://www.highbeam.com/Search.aspx?q=webex+education Business School to Use WebEx to Connect Classrooms Around the World] ] [ [http://www.webex.com/smb/education.html WebEx Education Platform] ] [ [http://www.education.ky.gov/KDE/Instructional+Resources/Elementary+School/Read+to+Achieve+Grant/default.htm Kentucky Department of Education] ] [ [http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1312009/cisco_webex_expands_support_for_apple_mac_users_across_collaboration/index.html?source=r_technology Cisco Expands Collaboration Support] ] . Webex is a Cisco Web Meetings and Collaboration Solution. The platform has worked for educational institutions because of real time collaboration using an interactive whiteboard, chat, and VOIP technology that allows audio and video sharing. In distance learning situations, while replacing the classroom with features, institutions have also looked for security features which are inherently strong in a Cisco powered collaboration environment. The downside is that Webex is not a free platform like WiZiQ, Moodle or Lectureshare, and fees are paid per 'host' of a classroom or a meeting.

Another real time collaboration provider making headway is WebTrain. The Technology in Business Schools Roundtable, a group representing over 70 Canadian and US business schools [cite web |url=http://tsc.bus.wisc.edu/tbsroundtable/currentnews.htm |publisher=TBS |title=TBS AACSB Members |accessmonthday=June 19 |accessyear=2008] , announced a program for their AACSB accredited members and affiliated colleges and universites to use WebTrain for faculty meetings, student association meetings, virtual live classes, homework assistance, tutoring, teacher aid assistance, student technical support and remote control, lecture broadcasting, board meetings, virtual labs and anonymous drug, rape and depression counseling. [cite web |url=http://www.bctechnology.com/scripts/display_news.cfm?id=23956 |title=TBS Announcement |publisher=BC Technology |date=January 11, 2007] The announcement stated TBS will assist member business schools and their associated colleges and universities with implementation planning and rollout assistance to help increase the success of e-learning initiatives. The announcement also stated WebTrain will provide their hosted services free to the business school and their associated college or university for a fiscal school year to reduce financial risk related to using an enterprise class hosted service.Fact|date=July 2008

Computer-aided assessment and learning design

Computer-aided Assessment (also but less commonly referred to as E-assessment), ranging from automated multiple-choice tests to more sophisticated systems is becoming increasingly common. With some systems, feedback can be geared towards a student's specific mistakes or the computer can navigate the student through a series of questions adapting to what the student appears to have learned or not learned.

The best examples follow a Formative Assessment structure and are called "Online Formative Assessment". This involves making an initial formative assessment by sifting out the incorrect answers. The author/teacher will then explain what the pupil should have done with each question. It will then give the pupil at least one practice at each slight variation of sifted out questions. This is the formative learning stage. The next stage is to make a Summative Assessment by a new set of questions only covering the topics previously taught. Some will take this even further and repeat the cycle such as BOFA [http://planetbofa.com/] which is aimed at the Eleven plus exam set in the UK.

The term "learning design" has sometimes come to refer to the type of activity enabled by software such as the open-source system LAMS [http://www.lamsfoundation.org/] which supports sequences of activities that can be both adaptive and collaborative. The IMS Learning Design specification is intended as a standard format for learning designs, and IMS LD Level A is supported in LAMS V2.

ee also

*Blended learning
*Computer-based testing
*Distance education
*ELearningware
*Flexible Learning
*Hybrid Course
*Microlearning
*Online learning community
*Virtual education
*Online music education

References

External links

*dmoz|Reference/Education/Distance_Learning/| Distance Learning
*dmoz|Reference/Education/Instructional_Technology/|Instructional Technology
* [http://elearnmag.org/ eLearn Magazine] , published by [Association for Computing Machinery|ACM]
* [http://focalworks.in/resources/white_papers/creating_assessments/1-1.html Creating Good MCQs] A whitepaper by Focalworks


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