E-Learning Methodological Models and Typologies

E-Learning Methodological Models and Typologies

Maria Ranieri (University of Florence, Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch033
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Abstract

This article aims to examine these different e-learning models and discuss some recent evolutions in this field due to the development of online learning communities (Palloff & Pratt, 1999) and the diffusion of social networking practices that have emerged in the Web in recent years (Bonaiuti, 2006).
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Introduction

Since the beginning of the new millennium the term e-learning has received growing attention in the area of technology-enhanced education. The term, which literally means “electronic learning”, can be defined as “an innovative approach for delivering well-designed, learner-centered, interactive, and facilitated learning environment to anyone, anyplace, anytime by utilizing the attributes and resources of various digital technologies along with other forms of learning materials suited for open, flexible and distributed learning environment” (Khan, 2004).

Besides this wide definition, it can be identified different e-learning methodologies from a pedagogical perspective. More specifically, in the field of formal e-learning a broadly accepted classification introduced by Mason (1998, 2002), distinguishes between three main models: Content + Support, Wrap Around, and Integrated (Anderson & Elloumi, 2004; Bellier, 2001; Calvani & Rotta, 2000; Khan, 1997, 2004; Ranieri, 2005)

This article aims to examine these different e-learning models and discuss some recent evolutions in this field due to the development of online learning communities (Palloff & Pratt, 1999) and the diffusion of social networking practices that have emerged in the Web in recent years (Bonaiuti, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual/Online Community: Refers to a group of people that primarily interact via a computer network. The term is attributed to Howard Rheingold (1993). Even if a universal definition of this term still does not exist, it can be defined as a social network with a common interest or goal that interacts in a virtual space across time and geographical boundaries and is capable of developing personal relationships.

Wrap-Around Model: It is an e-learning mixed model consisting of partly online activities and partly predefined and structured content. It encourages a resources-based approach to learning and provides the learners with more freedom and responsibility. The tutor’s role is of the “pull” kind because only a small part of the content course is predefined.

Content + Support Model: Indicates an e-learning model based on the separation between course content and tutorial support. The content is predefined and structured. The tutor’s role is of the “pull” kind.

Formal Learning: Learning that occurs in an organized and structured environment (in a school/training centre or on the job) and is explicitly designated as learning (in terms of objectives, time or resources). Formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view. It typically leads to certification (CEDEFOP GLOSSARY, 2000).

E-Learning (Electronic Learning): A Neologism created at the start of the 2000s to indicate a set of methodologies aimed at using the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to provide learners with learning resources and interactions free from temporal and spatial constraints. Three main solutions can be distinguished: content & support, wrap around, and integrated model. These three structures are respectively based on content, teacher’s support for activities between peers and the Internet, and the collaborative learning group.

Informal Learning: Learning resulting from daily life activities related to work, family, or leisure. It is often referred to as experiential learning and can to a certain degree be understood as accidental learning. It is not structured in terms of learning objectives, learning time and/or learning support. Typically, it does not lead to certification. Informal learning may be intentional but in most cases, it is non-intentional (or ‘incidental’/random) (CEDEFOP GLOSSARY, 2000).

Integrated Model: Refers to an e-learning model in which the distinction between content and support vanishes because the course content is largely stated by individual and group activity. It relies on collaborative activities and meaning negotiation. The e-tutor’s role is that of community moderator and animator.

Collaborative Learning: Research has widely deepened the concept of collaborative learning. The expression “collaborative learning” can be defined broadly as an instruction method in which learners work together in small groups towards a common goal. It means that students are responsible for their own learning as well as that of the others. Thus, it promotes peer-learning and tutoring.

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