Selecting an appropriate e-learning environment can be a difficult task because the experience gained in using the environment can influence e-learners’ motivation and interest in the learning process. Hence, a careful attention is needed when selecting a particular e-learning environment in order to achieve maximum pedagogical benefits.
One of the key considerations that should be taken when selecting an e-learning environment is the environment’s ability to handle collaboration and sharing of learning resources among e-learners. Online group discussion forums like “out-of-classroom interactions [in LMS, for example, can] ….. have potential instructional value and can help strengthen interpersonal relationships between and among students and faculty that enhance the learning community inside the classroom” (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009). The selection of e-learning environment with access to tools like Wiki technology enables sharing of learning resources among course participants. Moreover, this collaborative activity enables both learners and teachers to share each other’s ideas and knowledge and “establish a collective repository of expertise in a subject area which is refined over time by the contributions and problem-solving of interested individuals” (Alzahrani & Woollard, 2012).
Instructor’s support and assistance are also one of the key considerations that should be taken when selecting an e-learning environment. Through e-learning environment, the instructor is able to provide feedback and review on students’ online work. Support provided by the instructor on online discussion forums forms an integral part of any e-learning environment because as a moderator of online discussions, the instructor is able to guide the students in the right direction if a discussion gets out of focus (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008). Also, instructor’s support via emails and online FAQs, weekly emails and reminders to the class help students to stay up-to-date with current course content and deliverables.
When selecting a particular e-learning environment, it would be beneficial to consider an environment which can accommodate different learning styles using various technology preferences (Saeed et Al., 2009). Technologies like blogs, podcasts, wikis, and web bookmarks can support learners with different learning preferences and that in turn can enhance the effectiveness of the learning process (Saeed et al., 2009). However, can it be possible to achieve an optimal e-learning environment that would accommodate learning styles of all learners? And are there any specific technologies that should be incorporated into the learning process in order to achieve optimal e-learning environment? These are some of the questions which I think need further research and analysis in order to achieve e-learning environment which can accommodate learning styles of all learners.
Alzahrani, I., & Woollard, J. (2012). The Potential of Wiki Technology as an E-Learning Tool in Science and Education; Perspectives of Undergraduate Students in Al-Baha University, Saudi Arabia. Online Submission.
Dunlap, J. & Lowenthal, P. (2009). Tweeting the Night Away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 129-135.
Garrison, D.R. & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education – Framework, Principles, and Guidelines. San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass.
Saeed, N., Yang, Y., & Sinnappan, S. (2009). Emerging Web Technologies in Higher Education: A Case of Incorporating Blogs, Podcasts and Social Bookmarks in a Web Programming Course based on Students’ Learning Styles and Technology Preferences. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 98-109.