Harnessing the Tiger of Emerging E-Learning Platforms

Harnessing the Tiger of Emerging E-Learning Platforms

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3132-6.ch008
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This chapter explores the evolution of E-learning, defines many E-platforms and discusses the relationship between contemporary Andragogical practices, and future technology trends, which key drivers for the implementation of new technology, play a significant role. This chapter argues that online education (E-learning) has the potential for greater access and advancement of knowledge for learners across their life spans than the traditional four walled classroom. The purpose of this chapter argues how we can rely on practice and research to harness the untapped potential of increasingly diverse modalities of online education. Some of the major issues revolving around online education and adult learners in the 21 Century include: processes of learning prevalent in E-learning platforms, issues concerning policy, access and program completion, barriers to online learning adoption for adult learners and assessment of online learning in the context for the 21st Century.
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Appropriating knowledge and skills for the global workforce puts web-based technologies at the forefront of any education learning environment. As King (2006) reflected upon online education, she indicated, looking at online education for over 30 years, one cannot help but realize that the field has expanded exponentially. We have lived through a time of great advances in technology, policy, educational readiness, and societal technology adoption, but at the same time we have also struggled with great challenges in these same areas.

The purpose of this chapter is to first explore the evolution of E-learning, contemporary Andragogical practices, future technology trends, and the key drivers for the implementation of new technology. Next, learning how and what processes of learning is prevalent and available in E-learning platforms is vital in order to implement relevant online learning modalities; there are issues that affect this which include: issues concerning policy, access and program completion and how these issues affect the learner; it is also critical to understand the barriers adult learners face to adopting online learning. Lastly, the assessment of online learning cannot be ignored in order to determine if relevant learning is taking place within the context for the 21st Century,

The spotlight on online education focuses on the potential to reach learners in real time, anywhere, which provide learners with the flexibility of reaching their educational goals. In order to maximize learning, proponents of online education have promoted it in a multitude of imaginable, innovative ways. Even though online education has been in use for over 30 years, aspects of it are still in its infancy. Unfortunately one of the challenges facing E-learning is its slow adoption in higher education institutions; research institutions have been sluggish in understanding the transformational potential of information communication technologies (ICTs), and only now are beginning to understand how technology is reshaping and redefining our accepted notions of what it means to teach and learn in the higher education environment. In some higher education institutions there is evidence of entrenched organizational cultures which may slow the process of appropriating online education, as some academic faculty members accustomed to traditional modes of instruction may be disinclined to change (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2008). Such faculties fail to see the benefits and value of online education. They not only challenge the very existence, popularity, and effective use of online education but may also refuse to buy into the research data claiming the effective use of online education.

Increasingly, online education has become a vehicle of instruction in adult education as degree programs and distance learning have gained a firm foothold in universities and colleges around the world (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2008). It is no exaggeration to say that online education and adult learners have become inseparable in this digital age (Wang, 2005).

Many universities-have realized the potential of E-learning as a huge educational market among adult learners but also traditional universities have entered the online market place, and both are vigorously promoting online education programs. Indeed when we compare online education with traditional classroom education, we cannot help but realize the following advantages that online education has over traditional four-walled classrooms:

  • Instantaneous (synchronous) and real-time (asynchronous) communication modes.

  • Access to and from geographically isolated communities around the globe.

  • Multiple and collaborative among widely dispersed individuals.

  • Ultimate convenience, when and where you choose.

  • Interaction with and among individuals from diverse cultures.

  • Ability to focus on participants’ ideas, without knowledge of age, race, gender, or background.

Key Terms in this Chapter

MOOCs: This term refers to massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are usually a free Web-based distance learning program that offers course without credit and is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students.

Andragogy: Knowles (1970, 1075) defines andragogy as “the art and science of teaching adults.” Andragogy also refers to methods and principles used in adult education. The name comes from the Greek language, “andr-”, meaning “man”, and “agogus”, meaning “leader of”. In literal terms it means “leader of man”, whereas “pedagogy” literally means “leading children”.

E-Learning Platforms: This term refers to an integrated set of interactive online services that provide trainers, learners, and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management.

Open Source Learning Platform: The term refers to education practices that allow individual students to work with the guidance of a teacher-mentor to capitalize on the scope and power of the internet to create and manage their own learning experiences primarily with online technology. Learners and instructors are able to produce interactive material to explore and create concepts, source materials, and research that is available online to everyone (Preston, 2009 AU65: The in-text citation "Preston, 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Correspondence Education: Correspondence Education is commonly defined as a method of providing education to non-resident students, who receive lessons and exercises through mails and, upon completion, return them for analysis, criticism, and grading to the college or university concerned. It is being increasingly used by students, business and industry in training programs, by men and women in the armed forces, and by the governments of many nations as part of their educational programs. It supplements other forms of education and makes independent study programs readily available.

Sociological: The sociological strand includes elements related to how individuals learn in association with other people: (a) alone or with peers, (b) an authoritative adult or with a collegial colleague, and (c) learning in a variety of ways or routine patterns. For example, a number of people need to work alone when tackling a new and difficult subject, while others learn best when working with colleagues (learning alone or with peer element).

Pedagogy: It refers to instructional methods; this definition goes beyond the definition by Knowles (1970 , 1075) as “the art and science of teaching children.”

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