Gender and Diversity in E-Learning
Sigrid Schmitz (University of Freiburg, Germany), Ruth Mebmer (University of Freiburg, Germany) and Britta Schinzel (University of Freiburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2006
Multimediality, interactivity, and inter-connection as well as independence of place and time are potentials of e-learning and can bring about an increase in quality and flexibility of learning. E-learning comprises a variety of scenarios, which differ in their didactic approach and application of media technology. Reinmann-Rothmeier (2002) refers to a model of Back, Seufert, and Kramhöller (1998) consisting of three scenarios according to the main function of new media in the learning process. In e-learning by interacting, the new media facilitate interactions between users and the system, in e-learning by distributing, the new media function as distributors of information, and in e-learning by collaborating, the new media are applied in order to support group work. This trisection traces roughly the history of e-learning. Up until the mid 1990s, e-learning mostly consisted of programs on CD-ROMs run by learners on single PC-units. With the spreading of the Internet, the search for and distribution of information via the Web has continuously grown in importance. Currently, efforts are being made to improve interactivity and collaboration between learners and teachers to overcome the isolation of e-learners using CBT. Blended learning concepts evolved and CSCL emerged as a research field to consider technical and didactic aspects of online collaboration. Influenced by the shift in didactics from an instructional to a constructivist paradigm, current research questions are, however preferences, skills, and demands of users can be integrated into e-learning technology. Along with this development, gender aspects have become a focus of research. In this article, we will first clarify how the co-construction between gender and technology can be understood without lapsing into dichotomous and self-reifying patterns. We will then outline the multifaceted network of gender aspects in e-learning. We aim to develop a list of demands for e-learning scenarios and will propose an approach for technical construction that takes gender and diversity demands into account.