Designing eLearning programs

There is quite a debate on how technology has changed teaching and learning practice and what the new pedagogical approaches are. Perhaps we should firstly reflect on the evolution of eLearning from computer and web based content and multimedia that was teacher centred to the use of social software such as wikis and blogs where the learning is now more student and community centred. Learning has moved for the theories of behaviourism to constructivism and connectivism. Teaching and learning has changed because of technology and its ability to give access to a wealth of resources and its ability to connect people.

So as a teacher new to eLearning what does that mean?

It means that instead of you having to be the expert on a subject that you are trying to teach to a group of students you become the facilitator of their learning. You assist them to construct their learning based on a framework. You can develop this framework or you can work with your students to develop the framework. This allows you to use the internet and its vast array of resources and media, to integrate and develop a learning experience with your students. Blending different delivery modes and approaches. This is challenging and takes time and patience as you develop new skills and try new ways of engaging students and developing learning. The focus is on the design of the learning experience rather than the presentation of the subject matter content or the technology. This means careful orchestration of what the learners are going to do in the learning environment.

There is also the concept of “learning by doing” which has been popularised by practitioners such as Roger Schank and it is at the heart of pedagogical designs that stand to optimise eLearning (see Schank, 1997 cited in Naidu 2006). These pedagogical designs include:
  • scenario based learning
  • problem-based learning
  • case-based learning
  • learning by designing
  • role-play-based learning.

These designs are grounded in the principles of constructivism and situated cognition, and in the belief that learning is most efficient and effective when it is contextualised and when it is based on real world or similarly authentic settings (Naidu 2006). Technology can enable these designs and enrich the experiences.