A Model for Meaningful E-Learning at Canadian Universities

A Model for Meaningful E-Learning at Canadian Universities

Lorraine Carter (McMaster University, Canada) and Vince Salyers (Mount Royal University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0978-3.ch019
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Abstract

There is no questioning the growth of e-learning in universities around the world. Whether or not we are doing it effectively and meaningfully is where the uncertainty lies. In this chapter, two e-learning researchers from Canada offer their perspective on e-learning in that country. This perspective includes a snapshot of the Canadian e-learning landscape as well as the results of a multi-university research study called the Meaningful E-Learning or MEL project. The authors explore four themes derived from the MEL project and represented by the acronym HIDI (human interaction, IT support, design, and institutional support) in relation to three e-learning scenarios. While each element of HIDI is recognized as important, the criticality of institutional support and design cannot be overemphasized in the pursuit of excellence in e-learning.
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A Review Of The Literature

A Definition of E-Learning

The definitions of e-learning in the literature are numerous and, at times, confusing. In this chapter, e-learning is understood as learning that may occur outside of the face to face setting and typically involves a variety of learning technologies and teaching approaches (Moore, Dickson-Deane & Galyen, 2011). It is not to be confused with distance learning which, historically, has been defined as geographically distributed learning and, presently, involves online or internet-supported educational strategies. Instead, e-learning has adopted some of the characteristics of both distance learning and online learning and refers to the integration of pedagogy, instructional technology, and the Internet in teaching and learning environments. Based on this definition, e-learning environments may include face-to-face (f2f) classrooms in which instructional technologies (e.g. learning management systems, video- and web-conferencing, mobile applications, etc.) are used; blended and web-enhanced learning environments; and fully online learning environments (Salyers, Carter, & Barrett, 2010a; Salyers, Carter, Barrett & Williams, 2010b).

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