Researching Distance Education and E-Learning

Researching Distance Education and E-Learning

Fanuel Naidu (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-935-9.ch018
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An overview of the distance learning (DE) literature from the past few decades shows a great deal of attention being focused on “descriptive” research, which was work that aimed to describe the DE phenomenon. This focus led to some interesting and groundbreaking work on defining the nature of distance education, and theorizing about learning and teaching at a distance (see Keegan, 1996). With more experience, both in the practice of DE and its study, there has been growing interest on evaluating the quality of learning and teaching at a distance, and on the influences of various forms of technology in this regard. This research has drawn from what we know about human cognition, learning, and teaching, and about the effects of educational technology, including how to go about ascertaining their effects validly and reliably. One of the most noteworthy contributions to educational practice of distance education has been the awareness and interest in learning and instructional design processes, and course design and development more generally. Mostly because of the need to pay greater attention to distance learners, educators have come to realize that “shoveling” lecture notes and class schedules (known as “shovel ware”) into printed study guides and online learning environments is not going to be enough. A lot more is necessary to engage learners and support them in their learning.

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