Exploring Tangible Benefits of e-Learning: Does Investment Yield Interest?

Abstract

The first decade of the 21st century is already on the wane and we stand at an interesting point as regards the use of technology to support and enhance learning and teaching. The fact that we still refer to much of this enhancement as e-learning (and still disagree about what the term actually means) signals that the relationship between technology and learning is not as yet an entirely comfortable one. e-Learning still carries with it a sense of something 'other' and few institutions can say that a sound understanding of available technologies, their capabilities and current examples of appropriate usage, forms a cornerstone of the curriculum design process.

Within the academic community there remains a sizable proportion of sceptics who question the value of some of the tools and approaches and perhaps an even greater proportion who are unaware of the full range of technological enhancements in current use. Amongst senior managers there is a concern that it is often difficult to quantify the returns achieved on the investment in such technologies.

On the other hand those in the vanguard of technical developments are already signalling the 'Death of the VLE' (Stiles 2007) and heralding a new set of approaches based on a different pedagogic outlook and on the underlying technologies and social and collaborative tools that are collectively labelled the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

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