The main viewpoint the authors maintain does not focus on the technology itself in e-learning but primarily on the aspects of human learning, whether formal or informal. This work is an outcome of a long-term study of questions troubling the current education, theories of teaching, e-learning and empirical research in this field including the authors’ own research as well. A part of this work, therefore, consists of both the “frames” describing research findings connected with the given chapter’s topic and the description of authors’ experience with long-term use of digital technologies (especially at university).
ZOUNEK, Jiří, Libor JUHAŇÁK, Hana STAUDKOVÁ a Jiří POLÁČEK, 2021. E-learning: učení (se) s digitálními technologiemi
[E-learning. Teaching/Learnig Using Digital Technologies]. Vyd. 2., aktualizované. Praha: Wolters Kluwer ČR. ISBN 978-80-7676-175-9.
We were motivated to do a second edition of our work not only because of the development in education or e-learning but because of many important contemporary events taking place as well. Primarily, it considered the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant an unprecedented intervention into people’s lives and, similarly, into education. Sudden shift of teaching into the online environment practically in all schools that, in addition, lasted for a considerably long period of time, posed a challenge and at the same time a necessity to start teaching using available digital technologies for teaching and learning overnight. This was the case even in the areas where technologies are implemented with great difficulty. During this transition, many technical issues appeared including insufficient infrastructure but there were also issues with schools, many teachers and, last but not least, students (and their parents as well) not being prepared for e-learning type of teaching and learning. Further issues and, to say the least, a lack of clarity appeared as well, including unfamiliarity and disunity of terminology which subsequently complicated both the (expert) discussion on the topic and the practical use of technologies in education.
Another incentive to publish the second edition was the executed research that focused on digital technologies in everyday life and education of 15 years old pupils, which was supported by the Czech Science Foundation in 2017-2019 (project number 17-06152S, Grantee J. Zounek, co-grantee L. Juhaňák, K. Záleská). The aim of this project was to examine and describe in detail in what ways the digital technologies impact everyday life and education of pupils in different contexts and different milieus – therefore not only in schools. These results were therefore another incentive to update the publication. They are in many places used as a source and argumentation or there are some selected results directly presented in our “frames” of research.
The establishment of a study specialization called Digital Technologies in Education, which was accredited as a part of bachelor studies of education at the Department of Education sciences, Masaryk University, with the guarantor being Jiří Zounek, was another important contribution towards getting the publication up to date. The first students of this specialization therefore became authors’ inspiration during the process of writing this publication and they also became the first readers.
The authors perceive e-learning both as a theory or research and as any realistic education process (with different levels of intentionality) in which the information and communication technologies that work with data in an electronic form are used in concordance with ethical principles. The ways of using ICT and the availability of teaching/learning materials are dependent especially on the education aims and content, the character of educational environment, needs and possibilities of all participants in the education process.
The first chapter focuses on the process of learning in one person’s life, its basic principles and forms. The authors explain the transformative and social character and at the same time perceive human learning in the wider context of school politics and educational theories. The important topics in this chapter are the “21st-century skills” and the issues of “new literacies”. The chapter also discusses lifelong learning in the context of digital technologies spreading through current society. It also focuses on group learning in the context of e-learning or on so-called blended learning (hybrid learning) or mobile learning.
In the following chapter, the authors concentrate on the participants of e-learning. Important topics are not only the “new” skills of students but also their controlled or self-controlled learning and personalized learning. It is not just students but also their teachers/educators that are considered as key participants. There are new demands being made of teachers/educators, which are reflected in their work and the profile of their profession as well. The authors therefore also focus on the competencies of teachers in a digital age, the issues of pedagogic thinking of teachers and technological pedagogical content knowledge. The attention is aimed at The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu) as well. Last but not least, it is also mentioned that being able to use the technologies does not mean automatically be able to use them well in teaching.
The theories of learning are the governing topic of the next chapter. Studying them can help to dive deeper into the issues of teaching and, on the basis of this new knowledge, implement and use digital technologies in education more effectively. Individual theories (neobehaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, connectivism) are perceived by the authors as different approaches to education and especially learning, however, they are not perceived as contradictory or mutually excluding. The theories describe relatively well how to control teaching, on what to put emphasis on, of what character the knowledge is or what roles specific participants have in teaching and learning. The theoretical perspective on the whole issue leads the authors to pedagogic thoughts on the possibilities of implementing technologies in education and, at the same time, it averts a simplifying experience-based perception or a simple mechanical perception of e-learning.
The following chapter deals with general questions on planning, preparation and realization of an online course or teaching. The authors here use the information from previous chapters and apply them in individual phases of preparation and realization of instruction and they point towards the difference between using digital technologies as a supplement to present teaching or to them being used as a part of it, the so-called blended learning. In this publication, six models of the design of instruction are presented: Bloom’s taxonomy, so-called ADDIE model, Gagne’s model ID, systematic approach (Dick’s and Carey’s model) and constructivism approach of Jonassen usable especially in a lesson focused on contextualized learning. The last type presented is the so-called Universal instructional design (UID). It is an example of constructivist model ID with cognitivist influence, with its aim being to create a flexible instruction that welcomes the individuality of each student including students with specific learning needs.
Work focused on e-learning cannot omit the technology itself. The following chapter, therefore, focuses on the pedagogic description of selected online tools. This means that at the center of attention are not only the different options but also the use of ICT in different forms of education. A wide range of tools and online services is described, ranging from social sites to wiki, from podcasts, webinars, e-portfolios, games, simulations, and LMS to the use of videos in education or virtual reality.
The next chapter focuses on the description of several already organized courses in which the teachers (authors of this work) used digital technologies. Each of the courses is described based on their structure which was prepared beforehand that incorporated, for example, the explanation of teaching aims, course preparation, creation of study materials, teaching methods and forms of assessment. The chapter, therefore, offers an insight into the teacher’s workshop where the online tools are used in present-day and combined studies. As another source of inspiration, the authors also recognize the cases when the readers, after giving all didactic aspects thorough thought, reject some of the approaches or significantly change them for the needs of their own teaching or learning.
Another chapter defines and explains the advantages and disadvantages of using digital technologies in teaching. The authors analyze the contributions and flaws from the perspective of students, teachers and institutions that use online technologies or plan on using them. At the same time, the authors warn against the needless and sometimes even reckless use of the most modern technologies in order to introduce new trends into teaching without any pedagogical aim. Similarly, it is important to treat the advertisements of various software products with care, as their creators often present unrealistic possibilities in relation to their products. Attention is also given to the health risks connected with the use of technologies.
An important part of e-learning is its research and evaluation. The authors devote an entire chapter to present different information sources and results of empiric researches from the field of e-learning. These information sources, findings and results of these researches and expert studies allow a deeper understanding of the real-life use of digital technologies in many fields of human activity. Similarly, some international researches are presented as well to allow comparison of the situation in the Czech Republic with other countries (for example Eurostat, researches PISA, ICILS, PIAAC). One of the main aims of this chapter is to navigate the reader in a very wide field of (expert) information on e-learning, which can be used both for research purposes and practical purposes (for example, for planning an educational course, for decisions on the level of company management or schools or on different levels of school administration). The authors also present their research approaches and methods that they have used as a part of their own research projects.
Another part of this work is the online support at www.knihaelearning.cz, where all the references published in this book are available together with any supplementary or expanding information. In the ideal case, it is advised to read the work in front of a computer or with a tablet or phone in hand in order for the reader to be able to get to the websites using QR codes available in each chapter.