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What is e-learning?

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Started by Karen Spencer 05 Mar 2013 8:38am () Replies (21)

imageSuch a (seemingly) simple question.

And yet many of us are working in schools in which colleagues are raising their understanding and awareness about what appropriate integration of technologies is, and what it might look like.

In Enabling e-Learning ('what is e-learning?'), the definition is:

".... learning and teaching that is facilitated by or supported through the appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). "

Appropriate is the key word here, signalling the way we deliberately select technologies that support a curriculum focus and a pedagogical approach.

Following a recent shout-out in another group on this very topic, I thought I'd start this thread where we can share resources and ideas that we have found useful in schools as we work together to answer this question for ourselves:-)

Image source


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2013 12:13pm ()

    Thanks for starting thread Karen. I am aware that some parents and BOTs have also voiced their interest in what e-learning is about and the potential value of this - considering its where a lot of money is invested. 

    It's definitely about appropriate and deliberate use of technologies. I also think it's about having a clear understanding of the potential e-learning has - to help bring about transformative change for our learners. We still need to ask ourselves, What exactly is it - that we want the technologies to do?

    There is SO much e-learning goodness across the Enabling e-Learning groups, so I'll share some personal resources I favour. 

    HOT PICK Cool Pedagogy Strategy - Learning in an Online World - An oldie but a goodie, clarifies how e-learning is an enabler for effective teaching and learning pedagogy. 

    GOLD: Cool e-Learning Planning Framework - A framework to aide the assessment and development of e-capability in NZ schools.

    HELPFUL: Smile  What is an effective e-learning pedagogy? An ICT PD blog post with snippets about what effective e-learning pedagogy could look like.

    INTERESTING: Smile e-Learning research and Readings in TKI - including a paper written in 2009, Rich ICT learning experiences_Tessa Gray.pdf about the desired potential of e-learning.

    USEFUL: Smile A Prezi presentation about the value of e-Learning with examples of what that looks like (shared with parents and BOT's). The transcript for this presentation is also available.

    THOUGHT PROVOKING: Smile The impact of e-learning - prove it! A thread in the VLN - related to discussing the perceived value and benefits of e-learning.


    SOME EXTRA GOOD READING: Where education and technology meet in a digital climate

    Swimming out of our depth? Leading learning in 21st century schools - nzcer report - Paper looks at shifting paradigms, so that teachers have the dispositions and competencies to teach in an e-learning climate.

    The 21st Century Skills Teachers and Students Need to Have - Embeddable document on re-thinking teaching and learning in a digital age - what teachers and students need to know.

    Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy (I.2A) (19 December 2012) - Recommendations to help improve e-learning across New Zealand schools.

    CORE's Ten Trends: For current and future trends of e-learning and education, check out CORE's Ten Trends as well as the latest from the NMC Horizon Report > 2013 Higher Education Edition.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2013 12:37pm ()

    Enabling e-Learning photographic challenge term 2

    Oops, just about forgot to add what e-learning could look like:

    Enabling e-Learning Media Gallery - collection of videos depicting what e-learning looks in schools

    Enabling e-Learning photographic challenge term 2 - collection of images depicting what e-learning looks like in schools

    Enabling e-Learning webinar recordings - collection of educators sharing their e-learning experiences and resources 

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2013 12:48pm ()

    Excellent, thank you, Tessa!

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2013 12:48pm ()

    Excellent, thank you, Tessa!

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2013 10:44am ()

    We have to be aware too, that the word 'e-Learning' will become dated once technology is seen as a seamless part of learning.  Karen mentions 'appropriate' use of ICTs, and here we can go directly back to what good learning is about - having students feel they have ownership of their learning, having a curriculum that reflects their community and context, providing opportunities for students to pose questions and inquire into their world, and engage with experts in many fields; enabling students to present and share information in new and exciting ways.  Tessa has provided many examples of this.  One of the diagrams that I have found quite useful as a way of ensuring that technology is being used to allow students to think critically, to be creative and to be problem solvers is the one that links Web 2.0 tools with Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:

      bloom pyramid.jpg

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2013 12:20pm ()

    Interesting point that you make, Diane about the term e-learning becoming dated. While I agree that eventually we will get there, the term has been used for at least the last 2 decades and I believe we've still got a long way to go to see it as a "seamless part of learning". It definitely should be the goal.

    It's interesting that we talk the appropriate use of technologies in teaching and learning. As part of my post-graduate study, I was privileged enough to be involved in a webinar organised by my lecturer with academic and e-learning expert, Jon Dron. (This discussion was a while ago, so I’ll do my best to explain what he said) He talked about the pedagogy vs technology idea that is so often debated and suggested that technology is a pedagogy. This is quite a different view on this.

    I’m sharing an artefact from an ePortfolio I put together for the course I was studying at the time, which elaborates on what I’ve said above and gave my view on this at the time. I just thought it was an interesting point about technology and pedagogy in relation to e-learning. It doesn’t necessarily help define “what is e-learning?” but it certainly made me think a bit differently about how I see technology.

  • Anjela Webster (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2013 1:28pm ()

    Really enjoyed your comments and your posting on your portfolio. Very interesting, and I will follow up by accessinG the readings. Cheers for this. 

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 10:31am ()

    Thanks Nathaniel for sharing your take on pedagogy and technology.  I still think we are on the same wavelength here.  My point was that e-Learning will cease to exist as a separate term, but will become part of learning and teaching, - a natural part of what happens in schools or out of schools!  Students will be able to choose how they record, create and present work - some may choose to work in groups, in a paper based manner; some may choose to use whatever tool they have to hand - their iPhone, iPad, laptops, computers etc.  E-Learning exists as a term at the moment, because we are all attemtping to harness the power of technology (to collaborate, create, share, look outside our own world) to enhance learning for all students.

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 10:36am ()

    I agree Diane that we are on the same wavelength, I was really just pointing out that the term has been used for quite some time now, with still a long way to go (in my opinion) until it's replaced with "learning".

    The other part (pedagogy vs technology), I was reminded about when reading through the whole discussion. It was just a different view which I don't think is often heard so thought I would share it.

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 10:38am ()

    Thanks Nathaniel, I am pleased you did. Smile

  • Gail Abbitt (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 1:10pm ()

    In a lot of the more recent research I have been reading it is now being referred to as TEL - Technology Enhanced Learning.  

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 1:14pm ()

    That's interesting, Gail. I'm not sure I've come across that term. There are so many terms, forms or variations of the term e-learning. Thanks for sharing that - I'm going to look that up.

  • Julia Bevin (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 2:49pm ()

    I agree whole heartedly that the term e-learning will disappear as technology and online environments become 'everyday'. I am enjoying simply using the term 'learning' in my classroom to cover all their work (no such thingas school work and home work) - we are learning all the time! Hopefully moving from the lower levels of remembering and understanding to being evaluators and creators too.

  • Anjela Webster (View all users posts) 12 Mar 2013 9:16pm ()

    I can't wait for the term 'e' anything to disappear. The 'e' world is a large community or entity in which we hang out, socialize, learn, trade, share, convene, exchange ideas, entertain ourselves and others - it has been and is  forming norms and expected behaviours, it has its' undesirable citizens, and strategies have been developed to help us navigate safely. It is a large society, and offers much and is almost free to join. A bit like living in the 'real' world. But we don't reference everything around 'the real world' every time we participate in something real time with real people. We just do it. When we are teaching and learning with real pencils and paper, we don't talk about it as 'real' or 'tangible' or 'actual'. So I'm all for the infusion of this 'e' entity into teaching and learning so it is as natural as all learning - just as Julia shared. It's about the choice of tools, the knowledge being constructed, and where and who it will be shared with and why. Followed with a "and what comes next...."  high order question when all is done. 

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 13 Mar 2013 12:23pm ()

    pencilsGreat thread! - a richness of resources from you all that we could use in workshops or conversations, plus some healthy debate;-)

    The issue of the pesky 'e' at the front is one I have debated many times, and I shared my thoughts on this one last year: 2 reasons to keep the 'e' in learning.

    Another central idea that I'd like to throw in here, especially if people are reading this thread with an eye on conversations to be had back at school is that the use of technologies in schools - 'e-learning' - should look really different from school to school. We are so lucky to have the opportunity here in NZ to tailor what we offer to the local context, the needs and strength of our learners and their whānau. The image I have chosen serves as a metaphor to convey this: similar tools, similar purposes (but not identifcal - pick the best one for you;-)

    I do wonder, sometimes, how often decisons are made based on trends and what is going on 'at the school down the road' - and how often decisions around technology are made based on the curriculum, a clear vision for students and a graduate profile. For example, in the design of learning experiences for classes that include Māori students, I might expect to see technologies used to enhance the culturally responsive practices described Tataiako.

    Which, I guess, comes back to the word 'appropriate'....Smile

    [Image credit: hownowdesign]

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2013 10:37am ()

    Here’s an interesting video from Enabling e-Learning: Leadership, where Dr David Parsons (Associate Professor, Massey University) talks about the term ‘e-learning’ and elaborates on defining this more like, ‘blended learning opportunities’ where e-learning tools are integrated in authentic ways.

    Great little conversation starter, if you have a spare 1min.44sec.


    Does anyone else have a handy, short video to recommend on 'defining e-learning'?

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