Defining E-Learning


There are many definitions of and opinions on what constitutes ‘e-learning’. While this micro-site focuses upon the numerous benefits of e-learning and how these can be realised, it may be worth sharing a few views on this hot topic.

Definition 1: JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee)

JISC has defined e-learning as:

"Learning facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology'.It can cover a spectrum of activities from the use of technology to support learning as part of a ‘blended’ approach (a combination of traditional and e-learning approaches), to learning that is delivered entirely online.  Whatever the technology, however, learning is the vital element."

Definition 2: ALT (Association of Learning Technologists)

ALT recognises learning technology as:

"The broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching, and assessment."

Definition 3: Researcher, Practitioner & Author: Clive Shepherd

Clive Shepherd, author of the 'Really Useful e-learning instruction manual', describes e-learning as:

"a particularly versatile medium, capable of delivering a high quality and highly-adaptive multimedia experience on a wide range of devices and with unprecedented scaleability"

and categorised the medium thus:

  • Online resources
  • Online collaboration
  • Self-study lessons
  • Simulations and virtual worlds
  • Virtual classrooms

Definition 4: Senior Learning Technologist, Martin King

A personal view, Martin King, Senior Learning Technologist at Royal Holloway, University of London:

"A broad range of activities and interactions, underpinned by information and/or audio visual technologies, which facilitate, support and enhance the learning processes and experiences of the participants.

The institutional technologies in use at Royal Holloway include Moodle, Turnitin, Panopto, and Turning Technology ResponseWare.  This broad and well-supported offering is augmented by use of 3rd party services such as Twitter, Padlet and Google Drive.

Activities which are enhanced by or - in many cases - dependent upon the use of technology include the provision of resources, collaborating on tasks, and a wide range of assessments."

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