Theory and Practice of Online Education


Terry Anderson has released the second edition of his popular “Theory and Practice of Online Learning”. The book is available for purchase or as a free download (click here to download the entire book in .pdf format). Topics include social media, philosophies of technology, mobile learning, cost decisions about technology, libraries, learner support and more.

I was particularly interested in the chapter titled “Towards a Theory of Online Learning” which had me thinking back to the work I did in the field of distance education with theorists such as Holmberg, Keegan, Moore etc. Anderson has a background that comes from these same traditions, and like these theorists before him, he begins with a general assessment of how people learn, using as a framework the work of Bransford, Brown, and Cocking’s (1999). He goes on to assess the unique characteristics or affordances of the Web to enhance these generalized learning contexts and discusses the six forms of interaction and their critical role in engaging and supporting both learners and teachers. He then presents a model of e-learning, a first step towards a theory, in which the two predominate forms of e-learning – collaborative and independent study modes – are presented with a brief discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Anderson ends with a discussion of the emerging tools of the Semantic Web, and the way they will affect future developments of theory and practice of online learning.

Separate chapters are devoted to exploring infrastructure and support (including chapters on social software and the use of mobile technologies); the design and development of online courses, and on the delivery, quality control and student support of online courses. The broad range of subjects, both theoretical and practical, should be of immense interest to researchers and practitioners in the field of online education and eLearning.

One thought on “Theory and Practice of Online Education

  1. Thanks for the link. Looks like an interesting resource, and I’ll definitely look at the infrastructure sections.

    BTW – tried the search facility on the blog but kept getting Movable Type errors – “Movable Type: An error occurred. Publishing results failed: Can’t find included template module ‘Header'”

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