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What is elearning?

Olimpius ISTRATE
associate researcher - Institute for Education Sciences
teaching assistant - University of Bucharest
olimpius.istrate [at] tehne.ro

< electronic learning

(1) Largo senso, elearning (or e-learning) stands for any educational situation significantly using ICT means. The term, taken from Anglo-Saxon literature, was extended from the primary, etymological sense of learning through electronic medium, covering nowadays the entire domain of educational interventions using modern ICT. Defined like this, more as e-education, the semantic area of elearning concept is interfering and variably overlapping a multitude of terms intercepting the variety of didactic experiences which could benefit of technological support: computer assisted instruction, computer mediated communication, computer mediated learning, digital/ mobile/ online learning/ education, learning through multimedia etc.

The concept of educational software covers a large area of electronic materials/ applications developed to simplify/ support educational process: maps, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, didactic movies, presentations in various formats, e-books, tests, tutorials, simulations, didactic games, elearning platforms, elearning solutions etc. The computer and electronic/ multimedia materials are used to support teaching, learning, evaluation or as a mean of communication (to deliver/ receive individual learning tasks etc.).

(2) In a more restricted sense, elearning represents a planed teaching and learning experience organised by an higher education institution, which supports learning process in a sequential and systematised order to be achieved by students in their own pace. The delivery is done through the new communication and information technologies, especially through the Internet (online learning/ education) that represents both the distribution medium and the communication channel between the actors involved. The online education systems imitate and adapt traditional (face-to-face) education components: planning, specific content and methodology, interaction, support and evaluation.


The extensions brought by technological medium, insufficiently explored and used, refer to (claim for):
(a) a student centred approach, through personalised learning path - different ways to compose learning objects taking into account beneficiaries needs -, through individualisation of training - non-linear structure of the content, student autonomy and independence, asynchronous seminars;
(b) distributed resources - by using/ integrating/ accessing electronic libraries and multimedia materials, by involving top specialists in students discussions;
(c) interchangeable roles - continuous restructure of learning teams.

2004, April

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