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E-learning most often means an approach to facilitate and enhance learning by means of personal computers, CDROMs and the internet. This includes email, discussion forums and collaborative software. Advantages are seen in that just-in-time learning is possible, courses can be tailored to specific needs and asynchronous learning is possible. e-learning may also be used to support distance learning[?] through the use of WANs (Wide area networks), and may also be considered to be a form of flexible learning[?]. Often, but not always, e-learning will also attempt to be a student-centred learning[?] solution. Some view e-learning as a means to effective or efficient learning, due to its ease of access and the pace being determined by the learner, but to date little research has reinforced this.

On the practical side some e-learning is about organizing the topics to be taught and creating multimedia CDROMS or web sites. An important advantage is generally seen in the fact that hyperlinking is possible and having interactive parts illustrating difficult things or for doing exercices.

Often a design approach is implemented which involves creating or re-using learning Objects. These are self contained units properly tagged with keywords, or other metadata, and preferably stored in an XML file format. These are put in a database and creating a course requires putting together a sequence of learning objects.

One important point is to help teachers organize their pedagogical perspective. Some institutes for Higher education are devoted to this mission (training, counselling, funding, developpment, etc.). One example (IPM) may be found in Belgium: http://www.ipm.ucl.ac.be (website in French). The general philosophy (in English) for promoting E-learning and others technological tools may be found in http://www.ipm.ucl.ac.be/Marcel/TDM_english Claroline (see below) was developed by IPM (namely, Institute for Pedagogy AND Multimedias).

More recent approaches focus on dialogue, interaction and collaborative activities - courses still contain content but it is of secondary importance or is generated by the students. An open source course management system that makes this approach easier is Moodle (see below). This advocates Social-Constructivism as a pedagogical perspective, whereby learners construct their knowledge through discussion, thereby enhancing their thinking skills.

Organizing the content

  • For whom do we create e-learning content
  • What do they need to learn
  • How do we organize the content
  • Which tools / platform do we use? For creating? For delivering?

Instructional Design

Creating media

Binding it together Most often HTML is used to bind together the different e-learning media. Sometimes XML based files are created which are then rendered to HTML/CSS/JavaScript by using an XSLT transformation. However often proprietary techniques are used like Macromedia Director, an authoring tool which contains a Object-BASIC like scripting language.

A standard for representing e-learning content is SCORM.

See also:

  • CALL (computer assisted language learning) (for a more historical perspective)

External Links

Open source e-learning platforms:

  • Moodle (http://moodle.com/) (GNU-GPL) PHP-based free software
  • ILIAS (http://www.ilias.uni-koeln.de/ios/index-e) (GNU-GPL)
  • Claroline (http://www.claroline.net/) (php based GNU-GPL)

Other related links:

Elearning web news resources

  • Learning Circuits (http://www.learningcircuits.org) latest e-learning developments, US emphasis

  • Support Insight (http://www.supportinsight.com) daily e-learning stories, international interest

  • European Schoolnet (http://www.eun.org/eun.org2/eun/en/index_news) e-learning stories, European perspective, schools and education system emphasis

  • eLearningpost (http://www.elearningpost.com/) daily e-learning stories, US emphasis

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