Web-Based Learning: Status Quo and Trend

Web-Based Learning: Status Quo and Trend

Si Fan (University of Tasmania, Australia) and Quynh Lê (University of Tasmania, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-074-3.ch019


Due to the increasing adoption of computers and networks, web-based learning (e-learning) has become more feasible and acceptable within the worldwide (De Moor, 2007). The Web, as an essential means of supporting teaching and learning, has become an important application in the field of tertiary education. Most Australian universities adopt the Web and web-based technologies to support their students in both traditional coursework as well as online learning (Straub, 2008). As one indispensible mode of education, web-based learning has brought students and lecturers with a much more convenient way to teach and learn. It serves in a variety of learning activities, such as communication, information retrieval, collaboration, assessment and work management. With a strong confidence in web-based learning, it is believed by a number of researchers that this learning mode will continue to grow and capture a greater share of the tertiary education market.
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Definitions And Relationships

When discussing about definitions in relation to computer assisted learning (CAL) and web-based learning, there are often too many terms and some of which overlap. According to Wilson (1996), there are three major categories of learning environments: Classroom-based learning, Computer microworld and Virtual learning environment. Classroom-based learning, within the three learning modes, is commonly seen as the most widely used traditional educational setup. In a classroom-based learning environment, students periodically meet face-to-face with their instructors and other fellow students, using traditional teaching materials, such as books and CDs (Parikh, 2003). This face-to-face learning interaction is still seen as the most popular mode among all learning methods. However, due to the rapid development of technology and network, this ‘onefold’ teaching style can no longer meet students’ learning demands in some situations, and this leads to the increasing popularity of computer assisted learning (CAL) in a worldwide context.

Computer assisted learning (CAL) is also defined as computer-mediated learning (CML) or e-learning (Talbot, 2003; Zhang, Zhao, Zhou, & Nunamaker, 2004). It refers to the combination of computer microworld and virtual learning environment (Wilson, 1996). The computer microworld refers to a self-contained computer based learning environment. In this context students learn at their own pace using a computerised learning system, such as computer-based training and intelligent tutoring systems (Parikh, 2003). Compare to the computer microworld, a virtual learning environment provides students with more freedom because it allows students, dispersed over a large geographic area, to learn through a communication medium (Parikh, 2003). Hence, it is also called a telecommunications-based learning environment or distance learning by some other researchers (Shanker & Hu, 2008). CAL brings enormous benefits to learners and education institutions, such as easier access to quality education, affordable education, convenience and flexibility for learners and reduced environmental impact. The computer microworld and the virtual learning environment are considered to be the two major components of CAL in this research, and are both serving to support the traditional classroom-based learning approach.

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