The term eLearning covers a broad range of educational concepts including computer-based training, online courses and interactive learning resources as well as courses that incorporate technology-based collaboration and social networking tools.
Good eLearning uses technology to improve rather than confuse the learning experience. The technological tools in education should depend on the learning objectives and the learner group, not just what is trending on twitter.
Using technology to deliver learning can raise standards, increase access to and therefore widen participation in lifelong learning.
eLearning should not aim to replace teachers and learning facilitators, but exist alongside existing methods to enhance the quality and reach of teaching.
Best Practice eLearning Principles
In consultation with the client’s educational vision and expertise, Sarah uses contemporary best practice techniques and sound underlying pedagogic principles to develop engaging educational experiences for teachers and learners alike.
This page outlines the approaches to eLearning that Sarah most commonly uses in her work:
Sarah is a strong believer in the approach to eLearning known as ‘authentic eLearning’. This approach recommends that technology-based learning materials are delivered in a context that is both realistic and relevant to the learner. It encourages the creation of authentic activities, tasks and assessments that will continue to have meaning to the learner outside of the educational space.
For more information about authentic eLearning, refer to Dr Jan Herrington’s ‘Authentic Learning’ website.
Case-based learning (CBL) is commonly used in health education settings where learning activities and assessments are based on real-life cases or scenarios.
Research shows that CBL engages and motivates students (Thistlethwaite et al., 2010) and using this approach in conjunction with an authentic learning context (see above) can create a learning environment that is highly rewarding for students and teachers alike.
Just-in-time learning delivers information to the learner when and where they need it – rather than on a deferred basis. For example when a person is faced with a task, a just-in-time learning tool allows them to look up the information they need quickly and easily instead of trying to recall something from a course they completed months ago.
This type of learning is not new (many workplaces utilise step-by-step instruction sheets or how-to posters) however the use of technology (think mobile!) to do this is something that many people overlook.
Scaffolded and independent learning
Everyone learns differently and it’s important to provide both structure to direct and motivate learners, as well as opportunities for independent exploration and research.
Scaffolding tools such as a clear course induction, timed release of materials and good facilitation all help learners to stay motivated and engaged with the content.
In addition to this supportive framework it’s beneficial to provide opportunities for further research or exploration to those students that may have a special interest in the given topic.
A course that provides both scaffolding and self-paced exploration can greatly increase a learner’s independence and motivation.
Collaborative / community-based learning
There is a continued trend towards peer-peer education models where traditional learning resources are largely replaced by collaboration and discussion spaces in which learners exchange ideas and information.
David Cormier regularly runs ‘Rhizomatic learning’ courses under the motto of ‘the community is the curriculum’ . David uses the metaphor of a campfire to describe this type of learning – people congregate around the fire (the course) and discuss ideas and topics that people bring to the fire (the curriculum).
The Peer to Peer University (P2PU) illustrates this type of eLearning.
For examples go to http://www.elearnaustralia.com.au/