What is e-learning?

January 10, 2008

I’ve just further developed my thoughts on e-learning at this page: https://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/e-learning-learning-with-ict-and-digital-media/.

I would like to take this opportunity (inspired by Malenes great “Brainstorm: Social network site categories” see http://malenel.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/brainstorm-social-network-site-categories/) to invite everyone reading this post to write a comment on whatever springs to mind when thinking of “e-learning”. I’ll use this as an empirical resource in my PhD-thesis as well as my further work on this issue.

I don’t expect you to have read anything about e-learning – neither my page, referred to above – to participate in this quest.

Thanks 🙂



  1. Good initiative – though difficult with such a broad term 🙂

    E-Learning I guess is very much now a broad term describing learning events where ICT in some way or another is a part of the learning process. And this process can be more or less designed and planned for, or be of a more emergent nature.

    It seems to be have been especially connected with technology supported instruction or online teaching/learning in designed environment (VLEs. LMSs) and so forth.

    I have come to like the term ‘networked learning’:

    “Networked learning is learning in which information and communications (ICT) is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources”

    Goodyear, P., S. Banks, et al., Eds. (2004). Advances in Research on Networked Learning. Dordrecht, Klüwer Academic Publishers.

    The definition, it is argued, does not privilege a particular pedagogical model or ideal. At least not in terms of uniformly favouring collaboration or unity of purpose in a community of learners, such as for instance CSCL promotes. But that is a longer discussion 🙂

    Anyways – I guess e-learning is, by now such a broad area and especially since ICT has become such a big part of everyday life it is quite difficult to find learning where ICT in one way or another is not a part or has had a role in the learning process at some point in time.

  2. Hi Thomas, I’ve been reading and re-reading your post many times 🙂 . Thanks for participating in this experiment.

    I’m not very familiar with the concept of “networked learning”. Thanks for the tip about the book. I’ll look more into that. My vague impression is, though, that it also takes social interactions as its basic premise and is still very focused on formal educational activities?

    I fully agree with you that in Denmark it makes sense to talk about ICT taking more and more part in everyday living. This, I would argue, makes it more important that we investigate how ICT participates in variations of everyday courses of living.

    Thus, I try to formulate a concept of e-learning, that does not take a priori departure in formal educational learning, being planned, intentionally designed for etc. (but neither ignores these forms of e-learning either). I would consider learning through instruction where ICT participates as “variations of e-learning” and I’d try to understand them as partial and connected with other forms of learning in everyday living (related as well as non-related to educational activities).

    Actually since I try to characterize ICT as participating in everyday living, I’m not sure if it is the right move to cling on to the concept of e-learning (being already so strongly loaded with basic assumptions about institutionalized and formalized ways of education and learning).

    Does it work that I stick with e-learning and include non-planned, non-educational, non-intentional, informal etc. activities?

    I do want to emphasize that I’m still concerned with ICT. Another choice could be to return to “learning” – more and more people seems to argue for this move. However, erasing the “e” also hides the fact that my matter of concern – my research interest – is to study relations between learning and ICT (whatever, whenever and whereever they may be enacted).

    It does not seem to be a solution either to say that my focus is either on formal or informal ways of learning and ICT as informal and formal ways of learning always coexist. Actually, I do not like the idea of “formal learning” because it connotes the idea that we can control and plan learning. I believe that we can only make arrangements, establish environments that might guide learning in certain directions.

    Well, anyway, your comment brought a lot of stuff on my mind, Thomas.

    I would still like to encourage EVERYONE to write a small comment on whatever springs to mind when ‘hearing’/reading the word “e-learning”. It does not have to be written in English. Danish will do just as well 🙂

    You are right it’s a huge word and a difficult task to say something brief about e-learning. Which is – by the way – also a very abstract word for most people. In everyday living (even in many educations) e-learning is something that (as a researcher) you can not just ask about. E-learning activities may not go under the name of e-learning. This is another interesting aspect.

    I’ll stop here 🙂

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