Managing Learning Activities in E-Learning Systems

Managing Learning Activities in E-Learning Systems

Mehregan Mahdavi (University of Guilan, Iran) and Ali Sajedi Badashian (Islamic Azad University of Lahijan, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-869-2.ch013
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The advent of computers and later the Internet has led to trends in Computer Aided Learning (CAL). The learning process is rapidly transforming from traditional learning to electronic learning. Computer-based systems enable effective delivery and access to learning materials, at a time and place chosen by the student. This case explores Learning Activity Management (LAM) systems, which are new tools for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities. LAM systems provide instructors with a flexible environment in which to design, organize and monitor the learning activities of the learners. We describe components and key features of LAM systems and also explore the challenges that exist in this field.
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Background: Learning Activity Management (Lam) Systems

Constructive learning is a process in which learners build new thoughts, ideas and concepts making use of their knowledge and experience (Beatty, 2003). An important aspect of constructive learning is that it gives responsibility and control over the learnt material to the learner. Constructive learning is enhanced by interaction with instructors and classmates, rather than simply interacting with content (Alexander, 2008). Traditional e-learning systems have focused on content delivery and individual interaction with this content. Learning activity management systems extend this by combining content delivery with collaboration. They aim to combine the benefits of e-learning with the collaborative aspects of traditional (classroom-based) education, thus resulting in a more effective on-line learning environment. Some LAM systems have already been built to realize the above ideals. We describe some of the more prominent examples and then discuss the remaining challenges in developing such systems.

Nor Azan (2007) has developed a LAM system named SPAP, based on ideas from the IMS Learning Design framework. In particular, it used the Conceptual Model to provide a containment framework that can describe the design of teaching and learning processes in a formal way. SPAP allows teachers to plan, manage and monitor learning activities, and enables learners to carry out these learning activities. SPAP provides a set of seven activity tools based on teaching methods such as discussion, problem solving and simulation. SPAP includes five modules, the most important of which are the authoring and learner modules. The authoring module provides a graphical interface that allows teachers to describe a sequence of learning activities (a learning design) and save the design. The learner module guides students through the learning designs specified by the teacher, using a graphical interface to clearly indicate progress. It also gives them access to a course overview developed by the teacher in a synopsis module. A monitoring module allows the teacher to track the progress of all students through the learning activities.

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