E-Learning: Psycho-Pedagogical Utility, Usability and Accessibility Criteria from a Learner Centred Perspective

E-Learning: Psycho-Pedagogical Utility, Usability and Accessibility Criteria from a Learner Centred Perspective

Marta Fuentes Agustí (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), Margarida Romero Velasco (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) and María José Hernández Serrano (Universidad de Salamanca, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-789-9.ch021
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Since the democratization of personal computers and Internet access formal and informal learning opportunities have multiplied, increasing the technological-supported contexts and contents. Despite the increasing opportunities for education, not all teachers have developed a satisfactory level of eCompetence (Schneckenberg, 2006), not being able to choose and implement a technology-supported learning solution efficiently. On the one hand we need to consider the phenomenon of digital emigrant teachers, which is linked to the avoidance of technologies; but on the other, we have a large number of technological-enthusiastic teachers that try to introduce tools and functionalities without assessing first: the cognitive load, the cost, the utility, the usability, the accessibility and the psycho-pedagogical criteria that must be considered before innovate with technologies. This chapter aims at both groups of teachers or instructional developers, by offering a review of the e-learning possibilities and criteria, based on several analyses carried out by the authors on higher educational settings. Based on the learner cantered perspective, this chapter purposes some criteria for assuring the quality in higher education e-learning contexts, mainly based on three categories: psycho-pedagogical utility, usability and accessibility. One of the principal goals of the chapter is to support -by means of the criteria- the selection of technologies and functionalities (collaborative tools, e-learning 2.0 solutions...), considering, above all, the learning objectives and the specific learning contexts. The chapter will introduce also some of the main technology-supported learning solutions and will provide a decision-framework to choose, implement and evaluate the integration of educational technology for e-learning.
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The Role Of E-Learning In The Student-Centred Learning Process

The use of e-learning has a critical role for achieving the challenges of the convergence process in the EHEA. In 1998, the Declaration of the Sorbonne put into clear the objective to promote the Economy of Knowledge and Innovation in Europe. This declaration became the first step in the political process of a long-term change in higher education, it were promoted the convergence between national education systems within the different European states. A year later, the Bologna Declaration (1999) entailed a great deal of responsibility for the creation of the EHEA in accordance with principles of quality, mobility, diversity and competitiveness. The most important insight is that majority of the statements made for the implementation of the EHEA (Sorbonne Declaration, 1998 Bologna Declaration, 1999, Prague 2001, Berlin, 2003, Bergen 2005, London, 2007) highlight the need to change the teaching-learning process, for both the teacher and the students, through the use of ICT as a teaching resource, as an object of study, as a tool for educational management and an excellent tool for research (Bosco, 2005 ; De Pablos, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Writing Tools: Allows a group of persons to write and comment a document in a shared workspace.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Is a set of synchronous and asynchronous digital technologies for manipulating information and communicating

Unidirectional, Bidirectional and Multidirectional Communication: Different types of communication that can be carried out in the process of learning, depending on the relationships between the sender and the recipients.

Shared Workspace: Shared space where the team members can share documents and information, and keep notified each other of major changes.

E-Learning: Learning supported by computers. Most usual e-learning technologies are environment supported by continuously evolving, collaborative processes focused on increasing individual and organizational performance.

Utility: Efficacy to enhance learning.

Acceptability: Robustness, cost and reliability.

Usability: Easy to learn and easy to use. In the context of educational technologies usability could be associated to efficiency, learnability, memorability, and even, learners’ satisfaction.

Durability: Ability to withstand technological evolution without having to recode or develop again educational resources.

Reusability: Flexibility to integrate and use the resources and tools contained in different educational contexts.

European Higher Education Area (EHEA): Is the objective of the Bologna process that is to create more comparable, compatible and coherent systems of higher education in Europe.

Interoperability: Learning contents compatibility within platforms.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): LMS and VLE are systems designed to support e-learning. LMS allows the teacher to present to students, through a single, consistent, and intuitive interface, all the components required for training.

Affordability: Reduction in overall time and in cost on teaching and learning.

eCompetence: The ability to use ICT in teaching and learning in a meaningful way

Digital Literacy: Competence on the use of digital technology for searching, organizing, understanding and creating information with digital devices.

Groupware: Software that integrates work on a shared workspace to enhance communication and collaboration among the members of a group or team.

Teacher Role: Set of functions, tasks and attitudes assigned to the teacher for dealing with the teaching situation.

Interactivity: Possibility that the user has to act on the elements of the digital interface.

Accessibility: Locating objects, access to them and get them easily from a remote location.

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