In this unit we have tried to clarify what the term e-learning means, what are some of the key rationales for using e-learning, and the implications for teaching and learning. We suggest e-learning is best viewed as a continuum of possibilities for increasing the amount technology-mediated learning and that, as this increases, the nature of teaching and learning, and how it is organized and delivered, changes significantly.
While a number of rationlaes for using e-learning have been put forward, addressing quality, access and costs are, in our view, the most important and legitimate reasons for using e-learning. With these reasons in mind, it is essential that we integrate e-learning properly in a way that maximizes the affordances of the different technologies and modes of deliveries. If we don’t do this, costs will rise, access will not be increased and quality may not be improved. So we emphasize that e-learning is more than just enhancing teaching with technology. It implies re-thinking and re-designing learning and reorganizaing institutions. It is, by definition, about integrating learning technologies into teaching and learning, not simply using them to enhance existing approaches.
The use of e-learning opens up completely new possibilities for teaching, but institutions need to be ready to make significant changes if the potential of e-learning is to be fully exploited. In the next unit we begin to examine institutional readiness, particularly planning, governance and organizational culture issues.