Archive for the ‘web2’ Category

Defining Learning

November 17th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

As regular readers will know we have been doing some research lately looking at the use of technology for teaching and learning and the training of teachers and trainers. As always one o0f the problems is definitions – what do we mean by technology enhanced learning, what is

So Jenny Hughes has been busy writing a list of definitions. I think it is pretty good. But we would welcome feedback. Do you agree with Jen’s definitions? How could they be improved? What other terms do we need to define?

The use of technology for teaching and learning
We have used this as a preferred term for ALL activities relating to the management, organisation, design, implementation and support of learning and teaching which make of information and computer technologies. This will include institutional use of ICT as well as using ICT at the point of delivery.

We have used e-learning to describe the use of ICT by learners and teachers at the point of delivery and, by implication, where the use of the technology is a dominant feature of the teaching or learning or where the pedagogy is dependent on the use of the technology. That is, it is a sub set of ‘the use of technology for teaching and learning’ but does not include organisational use of tools and processes to manage learning.

technology enhanced learning
This is used in preference to e-learning when the use of ICT is to add value to the learning process rather than the learning being dependent on it or where the technology is the basis for the design of the learning activity.

programmed learning and computer based learning
Both these terms have been used to refer to stand alone learning programmes, either web based or on a CDROM / DVD, which are designed to be used by individuals working autonomously or with a minimum level of support. They are often designed by commercial developers for a mass audience or may be heavily customised for a particular context. This was the predominant use of ICT across all sectors in the 1980s but cost of production, among other reasons, has seen a reduction in their importance in the education sector. However, they are still used extensively in the business sector.

blended learning
Learning programmes that combine e-learning methods with face-to-face delivery or traditional learning and teaching methods.

braided learning
A form of collaborative learning whereby online communities combine to answer a question or respond to a learning problem. The resultant ‘braided text’ is characterised by heterogeneity of style and multiple perspectives and it is left to individual users to construct their own meanings. That is, no effort is made by the learners to develop the kind of overall style that formal reports or academic research documents would traditionally demand.

distance learning
This is a term which is less commonly used and one which we have tried to avoid because of its ambiguity. Traditionally, distance learning has been used simply to describe a learning situation in which teacher and learner are geographically separated, often where the identity of one is not known to the other. It does not necessarily involve the use of ICT but may do. It is often, unhelpfully, set in opposition to face-to-face learning but the use of on-line synchronous learning technologies where learners and teachers may be ‘face-to-face’ in a virtual rather than physical space has blurred these boundaries.

formal learning
Learning which takes place within an institution or organisation or other context the designated purpose of which is to provide education or training. It is characterised by the existence of curricula, differentiation of role between teacher and learner and a prescribed relationship between them.

informal learning
learning which takes place in a context which is not externally structured by a learning institution, a teacher, a curriculum or by a particular relationship between teacher and learner. This typically includes learning occurring in the home, in a social context or in the workplace and embedded in activities which are part of a learner’s everyday life. The learning is more likely to be unstructured or structured internally by the learner and is continual.

non formal learning
Learning that occurs in a formal learning environment or context but is not formally recognised or determined by a curriculum or syllabus. It typically involves workshops, community courses, interest based courses, short courses, conference style or seminars and participation is usually voluntary rather than prescribed.

Earlier definitions of formal and informal learning were based on the location in which learning takes place, that is, whether learning occurred in a ‘formal’ learning environment, such as a college, or an ‘informal’ one such as the home. However, this was limited because a lot of informal learning will also take place in institutions which are designed as formal learning environments. Domain is therefore a preferred term to describe the particular physical space in which learning occurs.

workbased learning / workplace learning
In further education these terms are often used interchangeably and refer to two different situations. Workbased learning (WBL) is more typically used to describe employer-led training which may include both on- and off-the-job learning. It is often used to used to distinguish that training sector from the FE colleges. Workplace learning (WPL) is an increasingly used term for teachers learning within their own institutions rather than on external courses. This is an imperfect definition as obviously colleges and adult education centres are employers as well as providers but we have maintained the distinction for convenience.

The word teacher has been adopted as a generic term that includes adult education tutors, lecturers, trainers and anyone whose core role is the design and delivery of learning experiences. We have used the specific terms where it is necessary to distinguish between them or if we are discussing a particular context where they are in common use.

We have used trainer in two different ways. Firstly to describe individuals who deliver initial teacher training or continuing professional development i.e teacher trainers. Secondly, to refer to individuals working in the private training or industry sectors when it is necessary to distinguish them from college lecturers or adult education tutors

A broader term covering the all the individuals who have a direct responsibility for the learning of others, whether covered by the qualification framework or not. This may be all of their job (such as a private free-lance trainer or college lecturer) or a small part of their job (for example, a shop-floor craftsman who acts as a mentor.)

education professionals
An even broader term which covers teachers, trainers and educators (see above) but also includes managers (e.g training officers or college principals) and professionals from other disciplines who are working in the education service but who do not have direct responsibility for teaching and learning at the point of delivery

personal ICT skills
By this we mean the capabilities and the technical skills of individuals to use technology. A reasonable level of personal competence in the use of ICT is a necessary but not sufficient baseline for designing and delivering e-learning in the same way that the ability to read is a prerequisite of being able to teach someone else to read, which requires an additional set of skills.

continuing professional development
CPD is taken to mean the conscious process by which individuals update their professional knowledge and develop professional competences throughout their working life in order to respond to a changing work environment. It may be compulsory or voluntary, formal or informal, regulated or flexible.

It is also used to describe the provision of learning opportunities which are designed to maintain, improve and broaden the knowledge and skills of employees and develop the personal qualities required in their professional lives.

personal learning environments
An individual’s combination and use of tools for the purposes of learning. Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of, and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage both the content and process of their learning and communicate with others in the process of learning.

learning management system
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software tool, typically web based, which helps to plan and deliver learning events and to ‘manage’ learners by keeping track of their progress and their performance across a range of learning activities. It also facilitates interaction between teachers and students and among students themselves. Formerly called Managed Learning Environments (MLE)

virtual learning environments / learning content management system
A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is a software system that supports teaching and learning by facilitating the development, management and publishing of the content that will typically be delivered through the LMS. It provides teachers and trainers with the means to create e-learning content efficiently and provides learners with the means to access it. Formerly called virtual learning environments.

In practice, it is normal to find software solutions that combine learning management and learning content management systems.

web 1, web 2.0, web 3.0, web X
These terms are used to describe paradigm shifts in the ways that people use the world wide web and also the changes in the technology that simultaneously drive and reflect those changes.

web 1
A retrospective label for the first stage of development of the world wide web which was based on linking information. Web users accessed that information and were essentially passive recipients of content and media products created by experts – as they would visit a library or watch television or go to see a film.

web 2.0
The term ‘2.0’ mimics the way developers label new versions of software. However, web 2.0 does not refer to an upgrade in the technical specification of the web, it is a metaphor used to describe how web designers and web users are moving in a new direction. Web 2.0 is based on linking people. A key feature of web 2.0 is the development of social networking software which promotes the development of online communities and allow people to work collaboratively.The other major change has been that web 2.0 applications allow users to generate and publish their own content rather than just being consumers.

web 3.0
The emerging paradigm, still in its infancy, based on linking knowledge. Also called the semantic web, it is enables users to combine data from different sources in innovative ways to generate new meanings.

social software
On-line tools designed to enhance communication and collaboration. These include social networking sites, blogs, wikis and user-generated taxonomies or ‘folksonomies’

communities of practice
Social networks of individuals who share common interests, purposes, artifacts and practice and are a rich source of learning for members of the community. Social software has provided the tools to facilitate the development of on-line communities of practice made up of dispersed users.

digital identity

the aspect of digital technology that is concerned with the mediation of people’s experience of their own identity and the identity of other people and things.

A purposeful collection of digital items representing ideas, evidence, reflections, feedback, etc, which presents a selected audience with evidence of a person’s learning and/or ability.

We have used this as an umbrella term to cover the processes and practices of teaching, the strategies, methodologies and techniques that are used and also their theoretical basis.


Scaffolding is a term to describe those activities which provide structure and support for e-learners and can include both technical tools and processes. Acquiring and deploying the knowledge and skills to scaffold learning is one way in which e-learning is changing the role of teachers and trainers..

Disposition is used [about teachers and learners] to describe the tendencies of individuals to behave and react in a certain way and to take up particular positions. Teachers’ dispositions toward e-learning will be be made up of their attitudes towards technology, their habits as teachers and as technology users, their state of readiness, level of preparation and previous learning history. This will be manifested in the way that they use technology for learning and teaching and the diversity of dispositions needs to be reflected in the design and delivery of teacher training.

Don’t blame the technology!

March 29th, 2010 by Cristina Costa

Sometimes I wonder why people want to use technology in their practice. Is it because it’s a recognised trend in their professional sphere/discipline? Is it because others are doing it? Is it because it makes them look cool and modern? …maybe it is a bit of all…?
And in a way they are all plausible answers. […]

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