E-learning application within distance contexts is growing rapidly as a solution to the demands and needs of CTE learners in the 21st century. Effective and sustainable application begins with understanding the connective relationship e-learning enjoys with distance education. In conjunction with this link, pedagogical theory and practices successfully utilized within distance education are of relevance to CTE educators and practitioners if successful application is to be attained. This chapter delves into the prominent theories and practices of distance education centered on a learner-centered approach. Also discussed is the changing role of the instructor and learner within this pedagogical approach. Although challenges and barriers emerge with change strategies, CTE has distinct advantages for successful transition and application. Central to the learner-centered approach is the characteristics and capabilities of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 technologies which continue to regulate and necessitate consideration of the learner-centered approach within distance contexts.
E-learning, a familiar term used in educational contexts today, often complicates effective application because of divergent understandings. While most generally agree that the “e” refers to electronic delivery or storage capability, the consensus blurs beyond this understanding (Bates, 2007; Frydenberg, 2002; Moore & Kearsley, 2005; Morrison, 2007; Salmon, 2000). Less recognized is the realization that e-learning can be any teaching and learning that is electronically mediated through technology including but not limited to Internet use (Adria & Campbell, 2007; Bates, 2005; Holmberg, 1995; Rosenberg, 2001; Wilson, 2007). The Internet’s capability to transcend beyond information presentation to offer flexible course design and delivery has won favor and acknowledgement in higher education (Beaudoin, 1990; Harsh & Sohail, 2002; Morrison, 2007; Rosenberg, 2001; Peters, 2004; Wild, Griggs, & Downing, 2002).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Web 2.0: The most recent generation of Internet technology conducive to learner-centered teaching and learning; expands learner capability to create, edit, and publish content, also increases collaborative interaction and content development.
Learner-Centered Pedagogy: An approach to the teaching and learning process which supports the concepts of a learner as an active participant and supports the instructors additional competencies as mediator and facilitator of leanring through learner support techniques and practices.
Constructivism: A learning theory that views the learner as an active participant in the learning process as prior knowledge is incorporated into new understanding.
Web 1.0: The first generation Internet technology characterized by the learner’s reception of information and limited participatory preferences.
Connectivism: A learning theory that suggests that the future will necessitate a multi-theoretical approach to the learner-centered pedagogical because of the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on the teaching and learning with respect to the expanded abilities of learners.
Autonomy: The concept of a learner’s responsibility to select the course of the learning process, also known as self-directed or independent.
Distance Education: The use of media and technology to bridge a physical gap between instructors and learners engaged in the process of teaching and learning.
E-Learning: The mediation of teaching and learning through electronic educational technology.
Support: The assistance provided for either instructors or learners for the enablement and skill development for participation in the learning process within distance learning contexts.
Structure: Structure surrounds the usability, appropriateness, and integration of technology and content determined by instructional design strategies.
Dialogue: Involves a learner’s interaction with content, the instructor and other learners, and establishes the degree of autonomy with respect to structured ability of learner participation.
Transactional Distance: A learning theory developed by Michael Moore which considers the ongoing interplay of autonomy, dialogue and structure in the distance learning process as a gauge for identifying the degree of interactive proximity between instructors, learners and content.