chapter  1
Learning and e-learning: The role of theory
Pages 13

Introduction It is arguable that there are really no models of e-learning per se – only e-enhancements of existing models of learning. Technology can play an important role in the achievement of learning outcomes but it is not necessary to explain this enhancement with a special account of learning. Rather, the challenge is to describe how the technology allows underlying processes common to all learning to function effectively. A true model of e-learning would need to demonstrate on what new learning principles the added value of the ‘e’ was operating. Where, for example, the ‘e’ allows remote learners to interact with each other and with the representations of the subject matter in a form that could simply not be achieved for those learners without the technology, then we may have a genuine example of added value. However, in this example the role of the technology may be primarily to get remote learners into a position to learn as favourably as if they were campus-based, rather than offering a new learning method. In such a case the enhancement is an educational one, though the underlying learning theory explains both campus-based and distance learning with the same theoretical constructs.