Defining e-learning

William Horton (2006) duly observes that e-learning, in its best version, can be as good as the best class. If it’s bad, it can be as bad as the worst class. None of the forms of learning has a natural advantage; only the particular design for purpose and facilitation of a course decides about the quality of the course.

If we want to evaluate e-learning, we first have to define it and specify our expectations. Very often the definition is directly derived from the course designer’s vision of e-learning and its potential for implementation. The context (or environment) of learning, the characteristics of the target group, the educational objective, the financial and technological restrictions, etc., will determine the type of e-learning you are going to experience. Sometimes under the same or a similar name (distance learning, distance education, e-learning, TEL) you can find very different methods of teaching.  It might be worth noting two definitions:

  • E-learning is the use of information and computer technologies to create learning experiences. (Source: E-learning by Design, William Horton, 2006).
  • E-learning is an interactive method of teaching which, through the use of the internet and available communication technologies, allows for the forming of certain relations between a facilitator (tutor) and a student, as well as among individual students in a group. (Source: Introduction to e-learning, 2008).

The choice of definition affects the selection of pedagogical approaches in relation to the design of e-learning courses (or, more general, to the process of learning in an online environment).

Time: 10 minutes

Last modified: Thursday, 25 July 2013, 9:36 AM