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A critical analysis is your reaction to the information in an article

and your evaluation of the manner in which the information is

presented in the article. 1) This critical analysis section of this

assignment should be four complete pages, typed, using APA 6th

edition format. 2) The title page is an additional page; and 3) the

reference page is another additional page – A total of 6 pages for

this assignment.

List the pointsarguments the author uses to support the thesis

or make his main points as the articles relate to your topic

Evaluate the authors’ presentation in each article. In other words,

how well did the author makes his/her point or supports the thesis of the

your paper

• Criticize the facts or lack of facts, the organization, the tone, the

author’s credibility.

• Who wrote the articles? What do you know about the authors?

• Are the articles straight news reporting, a commentary on some

event or situation, an editorial? Is it just the facts or a discussion

of something that has happened?

• Do the authors appear objective? What kind of language does

the author use? Is it emotional?

• Are the facts correct, clear? Do they “seem” accurate. Is the

information complete? Does it appear that some important facts

are omitted?

• Do the writers appear to know the subject matter? As you read

the articles, do you “feel” that something is missing? Is it logical?

Does it present support for his/her argument?

• Is there a clear thesis? Is it adequately supported with facts and

data? Are inferences made?

• How is the material organized, for example:

A. Chronological order

B. Comparison/contrast

C. Definition

D. Cause/effect

E. Problem/solution

source 1.pdf

Future Trends in the Design Strategies
and Technological Affordances
of E-Learning

Begoña Gros and Francisco J. García-Peñalvo

E-learning has become an increasingly important learning and teaching mode in
recent decades and has been recognized as an efficient and effective learning
method. The rapidly rising number of Internet users with smartphones and tablets
around the world has supported the spread of e-learning, not only in higher
education and vocational training but also in primary and secondary schools.

E-learning and traditional distance education approaches share the emphasis
on “any time, any place” learning and the assumption that students are at a
distance from the instructor. The design of the initial e-learning courses tended
to replicate existing distance education practice based on content delivery. How-
ever, long textual lectures were clearly not suitable for the online environment.
These early insights guided the development of e-learning (technical and peda-
gogical) and emphasized the need for communication and interaction.

B. Gros
Universidad de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
e-mail: bgros@ub.edu

F.J. García-Peñalvo
Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain
e-mail: fgarcia@usal.es

Gros, B., & García-Peñalvo, F. J. (2016). Future trends in the design strategies and technological affordances of e-learning. In M.
Spector, B. B. Lockee, & M. D. Childress (Eds.), Learning, Design, and Technology. An International Compendium of Theory, Research,

Practice, and Policy (pp. 1-23). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-17727-4_67-1

E-learning describes learning delivered fully online where technology medi-
ates the learning process, teaching is delivered entirely via Internet, and students
and instructors are not required to be available at the same time and place.

E-learning practices are evolving with the mutual influence of technological
e-learning platforms and pedagogical models. Today, the broad penetration and
consolidation of e-learning needs to advance and open up to support new
possibilities. Future e-learning should encompass the use of Internet technologies
for both formal and informal learning by leveraging different services and

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a general analysis of the evolution
and future trends in e-learning. The authors intend to summarize findings from
contemporary research into e-learning in order to understand its current state and
to identify the main challenges in the technological and pedagogical affordances
of e-learning.

E-learning development • E-learning technology • E-learning models • Learning
digital ecosystems





Advances in educational technology and an increasing interest in the development of
asynchronous spaces influenced the rise of the term e-learning in the mid-1990s as a
way to describe learning delivered entirely online where technology mediates the
learning process. The pedagogical design and technology behind e-learning have
gradually evolved to provide support and facilitate learning.

E-learning has become an increasingly important learning and teaching mode, not
only in open and distance learning institutes but also in conventional universities,
continuing education institutions and corporate training, and it has recently spread to
primary and secondary schools. Moreover, greater access to technological resources
is providing e-learning not only in formal education but also in informal learning.

The evolution of e-learning has evolved from instructor-centered (traditional
classroom) to student-centered approaches, where students have more responsibility
for their learning. This evolution has been made possible due to the technological
platforms that support e-learning. Learning management systems (LMS) provide the
framework to handle all aspects of the e-learning process. An LMS is the infrastruc-
ture that delivers and manages instructional content, identifies and assesses individ-
ual and organizational learning or training goals, tracks progress toward meeting
those goals, and collects and presents data to support the learning process.

It is also important to stress the influence of social media on users’ daily habits, as
this has led to increased demand for learning personalization, social resources to
interact with peers, and unlimited access to resources and information (Siemens,
2014). Moreover, e-learning is also being called on to offer flexibility in the way and
place people learn and permit a natural and necessary coexistence of both formal and


informal learning flows. Thus, the “traditional” e-learning platforms, despite their
extensive penetration and consolidation, need to evolve and open themselves up to
supporting these new affordances to become another component within a complex
digital ecosystem. This, in turn, will become much more than a sum of its indepen-
dent technological components due to the interoperability and evolution properties
orientated to learning and knowledge management, both at institutional and personal

The continued growth and interest in e-learning have raised many questions
related to learning design and technology to support asynchronous learning: What
are the best instructional models in online settings? How have the roles of instructors
and learners evolved? What are the most appropriate forms of interaction and
communication? How can formal and informal learning be combined? What is the
most appropriate technology to support e-learning? The main goal of this chapter is
to describe the evolution of e-learning and to analyze the current situation and future
trends in the design strategies and technological affordances of e-learning.

The chapter is divided into four sections. Firstly, we describe the meaning of the
term e-learning and its evolution from the early 1990s until today. In the second part,
we focus on the evolution of pedagogical approaches in e-learning. The third part
analyzes learning technologies with particular emphasis on the development of the
learning ecosystem as a technological platform that can provide better services than
traditional LMS. Finally, in the fourth part, based on the resulting analysis, the
authors offer some general remarks about the future of e-learning.

The Concept of E-Learning

In this section we analyze the meaning of the term e-learning in relation to other
similar terminologies (distance education, online learning, virtual learning, etc.) and
the evolution of e-learning generations from the early 1990s until today.

Evolution of the Concept

A major confusion in the discourse on e-learning is its blurring with distance
education: e-learning and distance education are not synonymous. Distance educa-
tion can be traced back to ancient times, whereas e-learning is a relatively new
phenomenon associated with the development of the Internet in the 1990s. However,
it is undeniable that the origins of e-learning lie in distance education and share the
idea that the use of media can support massive learning without face-to-face

The first documented example of training by correspondence (as distance educa-
tion was known for many years) dates back to 1828, when Professor C. Phillips
published an advertisement in the Boston Gazette offering teaching materials and
tutorials by correspondence. In 1843, the Phonographic Correspondence Society
was founded, which could be considered the first official distance education


institution as it would receive, correct, and return shorthand exercises completed by
students following a correspondence course.

The idea that technology such as radio and television could be used to bring
education to a wide audience began to surface as long ago as the 1920s, but it was not
until the early 1960s that the idea gained momentum, with the landmark creation of
the Open University in the UK, with a manifesto commitment in 1966 that became a
reality in 1971 when this university started to accept its first students.

The e-learning concept has evolved alongside the evolution of its supporting
technology, from the early concept linked to the introduction of personal computers
up to today’s distributed systems, which have favored learning networks and the
roots of connectivism (Siemens, 2005). However, the most outstanding and impor-
tant event in the history of e-learning is the emergence of the Web, after which the
evolution of the e-learning model has been inextricably linked to the evolution of the
Web (García-Peñalvo & Seoane-Pardo, 2015).

When a time approach is used to classify e-learning models according to their
technological evolution, the most suitable metaphors are generations (Downes,
2012; García-Peñalvo & Seoane-Pardo, 2015; Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Gros
et al., 2009) or timelines (Conole, 2013), as opposed to other taxonomies that use
variables such as centrality (Anderson, 2008) or the pedagogical model (Anderson &
Dron, 2011).

Garrison and Anderson (2003) refer to five stages, or generations, of e-learning,
each with its own theoretical model. The first is based on a behaviorist approach; the
second appears as a result of the influence of new technologies and an increasing
acceptance of the cognitive theory, including strategies focused on independent
study; the third generation is based on constructivist theories and centers on the
advantages of synchronous and asynchronous human interaction; the fourth and fifth
generations have no theoretical background, and the authors considered that their
main characteristics were not yet present in training programs, but they would be
based on a huge volume of content and distributed computer processing to achieve a
more flexible and intelligent learning model.

Gros et al. (2009) present three generations, each with a different e-learning
model. The first generation is associated with a model focused on materials, includ-
ing physical materials enriched with digital formats and clearly influenced by the
book metaphor. The second generation is based on learning management systems
(LMS) inspired by the classroom metaphor, in which huge amounts of online
resources are produced to complement other educational resources available on the
Internet known as learning objects (Morales, García-Peñalvo, & Barrón, 2007;
Wiley, 2002). In this generation the interaction dynamics start through messaging
systems and discussion forums. The third generation is characterized by a model
centered on flexibility and participation; the online content is more specialized and
combines materials created both by the institution and the students. Reflection-
orientated tools, such as e-portfolios and blogs (Tan & Loughlin, 2014), and more
interactive activities, such as games (Minović, García-Peñalvo, & Kearney, 2016;
Sánchez i Peris, 2015), are also introduced to enrich the learning experience with a
special orientation toward the learning communities model (Wenger, 1998). In


addition, web-based solutions are expanded to other devices which leads to the
development of mobile learning training activities (Sánchez Prieto, Olmos
Migueláñez, & García-Peñalvo, 2014).

Stephen Downes (2012) starts with a generation zero based on the concept of
publishing multimedia online resources with the idea that computers can present
content and activities in a sequence determined by the students’ choices and by the
results of online interactions, such as tests and quizzes. This foundational basis is the
point of departure for all subsequent developments in the field of online learning.
Generation one is based on the idea of the network itself, with tools such as websites,
e-mail, or gopher to allow connection and virtual communication through special-
ized software and hardware. Generation two takes place in the early 1990s and is
essentially the application of computer games to online learning. Generation three
places LMS at the center of e-learning, connecting the contents of generation zero
with the generation one platform, the Web. Generation four is promoted by the Web
2.0 concept, which in online education is known as e-learning 2.0 (Downes, 2005).
One of the most significant characteristics of e-learning 2.0 is the social interaction
among learners, changing the nature of the underlying network where the nodes are
now people instead of computers. This social orientation also causes a real prolifer-
ation of mobile access and the exploitation of more ubiquitous approaches in
education and training (Casany, Alier, Mayol, Conde, & García-Peñalvo, 2013).
Generation five is the cloud-computing generation (Subashini & Kavitha, 2011) and
the open-content generation (García-Peñalvo, García de Figuerola, & Merlo-Vega,
2010; McGreal, Kinuthia, & Marshall, 2013; Ramírez Montoya, 2015). Finally,
generation six is fully centered on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) (Daniel,
Vázquez Cano, & Gisbert, 2015; SCOPEO, 2013).

Gráinne Conole (2013) presents a timeline to introduce the key technological
developments in online education over the last 30 years (see Fig. 1).

E-Learning Generations

Based on the generation metaphor presented above, García-Peñalvo and Seoane-
Pardo (García-Peñalvo & Seoane-Pardo, 2015) reviewed the e-learning conceptual-
ization and definition according to three different generations or stages that are
consistent with the broad proposals of the different authors and particularly with
Stephens Downes’ idea that generations are not replaced but coexist, and the
maturity of the first brings the evolution of the following and the emergence of
new generations (Downes, 2012). In fact, the term “e-learning” have been used as a
teaching and learning method but also as a learning and teaching approach.

The first generation is characterized by the emergence of online learning plat-
forms or LMS as the evolution of a more generic concept of the virtual learning
environments that were set up after the Web appeared, with the broad (and poor) idea
that e-learning is a kind of teaching that uses computers (Mayer, 2003). These
learning environments are too centered on content and overlook interaction. The
technological context is more important than the pedagogical issues. The classic


definitions of e-learning are generally associated with this e-learning generation. For
example, Betty Collis (1996) defines tele-learning as “making connections among
persons and resources through communication technologies for learning-related
purposes.” Marc Rosenberg (2001) confines e-learning to the Internet as the use of
Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge
and performance. He bases his idea on three fundamental criteria: (1) networked,
(2) delivered to the end user via a computer using standard Internet technology, and
(3) focused on the broadest view of learning. García-Peñalvo (2005) defines
e-learning with a perspective focused on interaction, a characteristic of the next
generation, “non-presential teaching through technology platforms that provides
flexible access any time to the teaching and learning process, adapting to each
student’s skills, needs and availability; it also ensures collaborative learning envi-
ronments by using synchronous and asynchronous communication tools, enhancing
in sum the competency-based management process.”

The second generation underlines the human factor. Interaction between peers
and communication among teachers and students is the essential elements for high-
quality e-learning that seeks to go beyond a simple content publication process. Web
2.0, mobile technologies, and open knowledge movement are significant factors that
help this e-learning generation to grow. Based on this, LMS evolved to support
socialization, mobility, and data interoperability facilities (Conde et al., 2014).
Examples of e-learning definitions that are congruent with these second generation
principles include: “training delivered on a digital device such as a smart phone or a
laptop computer that is designed to support individual learning or organisational
performance goals” (R. C. Clark & Mayer, 2011) or “teaching-to-learning process
aimed at obtaining a set of skills and competences from students, trying to ensure the

Multimedia resources

The Web

Learning objects

Learning Management Systems

Mobile devices

Learning Design

Gaming technologies

Open Educational Resources

Social and participatory media

Virtual worlds

eBooks and smart devices

Massive Open Online Courses

Learning Analytics














Fig. 1 The e-learning
timeline adapted from Conole,


highest quality in the whole process, thanks to: predominant use of web-based
technologies; a set of sequenced and structured contents based on pre-defined but
flexible strategies; interaction with the group of students and tutors; appropriate
evaluation procedures, both of learning results and the whole learning process; a
collaborative working environment with space-and-time deferred presence; and
finally a sum of value-added technological services in order to achieve maximum
interaction” (García-Peñalvo, 2008).

The third and last generation of e-learning is characterized by two symbiotic
aspects. The first is technological: the LMS concept as a unique and monolithic
component for online education functionality is broken (Conde-González, García-
Peñalvo, Rodríguez-Conde, Alier, & García-Holgado, 2014). Since the emergence
of Web 2.0 and social tools, the e-learning platform has become another component
in a technological ecosystem orientated toward the learning process (García-
Holgado & García-Peñalvo, 2013), transcending the mere accumulation of trending
technology. This learning ecosystem should facilitate interaction and offer greater
flexibility for any educational teaching.

The second aspect implies a loss of verticality in the e-learning concept to become
a broader and more transverse element that is at the service of education in its wider
sense. Both from an intentional (formal and informal) and unintentional (informal)
view, learning ecosystems are at the service of people involved in teaching and
learning processes or in self-learning. Thus, e-learning is integrated into educational
designs or learning activities in a transparent way. It reveals the penetration of
technology into people’s everyday lives, making it easier to break down the barriers
between formal and informal learning (Griffiths & García-Peñalvo, 2016).

Technological learning ecosystems facilitate this globalization of the e-learning
notion, either to support an institutional context (García-Holgado & García-
Peñalvo, 2014; García-Peñalvo, Johnson, Ribeiro Alves, Minovic, & Conde-
González, 2014; Hirsch & Ng, 2011) or a personal one through the concept, more
metaphorical than technological, of the personal learning environment (PLE) (Wil-
son et al., 2007).

Nevertheless, technological learning ecosystems are supporting other approaches
to using technology in the classrooms, such as flipped teaching (Baker, 2000; Lage,
Platt, & Treglia, 2000). Flipped teaching methodology is based on two key actions:
moving activities that are usually done in the classroom (such as master lectures) to
the home and moving those that are usually done at home (e.g., homework) into the
classroom (García-Peñalvo, Fidalgo-Blanco, Sein-Echaluce Lacleta, & Conde-
González, 2016). The Observatory of Education Innovation at the Tecnológico de
Monterrey (2014) has also detected a tendency to integrate inverted learning with
other approaches, for example, combining peer instruction (Fulton, 2014), self-
paced learning according to objectives, adaptive learning (Lerís López, Vea
Muniesa, & Velamazán Gimeno, 2015), and the use of leisure to learn. Thus, the
flipped teaching model is based on the idea of increasing interaction among students
and developing their responsibility for their own learning (Bergmann & Sams, 2012)
using virtual learning environments as supported tools. These virtual environments
allow students to access learning resources, ask questions, and share material in


forums, as it is mandatory for students to have help available while studying at home
(Yoshida, 2016).

In this last stage, the MOOC concept has broken out strongly, perhaps with no
new e-learning approach, but with sufficient impact to make institutions reflect on
their e-learning processes and conceptions.

The term MOOC appeared for the first time in 2008 to describe the connectivism
and connected knowledge course by George Siemens and others (http://cckno8.
wordpress.com). This course gave rise to cMOOCs, where “c” means that the course
is based on the connectivist approach (Siemens, 2005). A second type of MOOC
appeared in 2011 under the name xMOOC, which is based on digital content and
individualized learning as opposed to cMOOCs, which are more related to collab-
orative learning. There is currently a great deal of interest in MOOCs among the
e-learning community. Other proposals for improving MOOCs have introduced the
use of associated learning communities (Alario-Hoyos et al., 2013), adaptive capa-
bilities (Fidalgo-Blanco, García-Peñalvo, & Sein-Echaluce Lacleta, 2013; Sein-
Echaluce Lacleta, Fidalgo-Blanco, García-Peñalvo, & Conde-González, 2016;
Sonwalkar, 2013), and gamification capabilities (Borrás Gené, Martínez-Nuñez, &
Fidalgo-Blanco, 2016).

However, the existing dichotomy between cMOOCs and xMOOCs is questioned
by different authors due to its limitations. Thus, Lina Lane (2012) proposes the
sMOOC (skill MOOC) as a third kind of MOOC based on tasks; Stephen Downes
(2013) suggests four criteria to describe an MOOC’s nature, autonomy, diversity,
openness, and interactivity; Donald Clark (2013) defines a taxonomy with eight
types of MOOC, transferMOOC, madeMOOC, synchMOOC, asynchMOOC,
adaptiveMOOC, groupMOOC, connectivistMOOC, and miniMOOC; and finally
Conole (2013) provides 12 dimensions to classify MOOCs, openness, massivity,
multimedia usage, communication density, collaboration degree, learning path,
quality assurance, reflection degree, accreditation, formality, autonomy, and

With regard to the core elements that define this third generation, García-Peñalvo
and Seoane-Pardo (2015, 5) propose a new definition of e-learning as “an educa-
tional process, with an intentional or unintentional nature, aimed at acquiring a range
of skills and abilities in a social context, which takes place in a technological
ecosystem where different profiles of users interact sharing contents, activities and
experiences; besides in formal learning situations it must be tutored by teachers
whose activity contributes to ensuring the quality of all involved factors.”

Pedagogical Approaches in E-Learning

In the previous section, we described the evolution of e-learning and noted the
existence of different educational approaches over time. In this section, we focus on
the evolution of e-learning, taking into account the pedagogical approach.

Pedagogical approaches are derived from learning theories that provide general
principles for designing specific instructional and learning strategies. They are the




mechanism to link theory with practice. Instructional strategies are what instructors
or instructional designers create to facilitate student learning. According to Dabbagh
(2005, p. 32), “there are three key components working collectively to foster
meaningful learning and interaction: (1) pedagogical models; (2) instructional and
learning strategies and, (3) pedagogical tools or online learning technologies (i.e.,
Internet and Web-based technologies). These three components form an iterative
relationship in which pedagogical models inform the design of e-learning by leading
to the specification of instructional and learning strategies that are subsequently
enabled or enacted through the use of learning technologies” (see Fig. 2). Due to the
fact that learning technologies have become ubiquitous and new technologies
continue to emerge bringing new affordances, pedagogical practices are continu-
ously evolving and changing. This does not mean that some designs and pedagogical
practices have disappeared. As we have mentioned, generations of e-learning coex-
ist. For example, some instructive models based on the transmission of knowledge
are still used but, sometimes, they incorporate new strategies such as gamification.

Conole (2014) divided pedagogies of e-learning into four categories:

1. Associative – a traditional form of education delivery. Emphasis is on the
transmission of theoretical units of information learning as an activity through
structured tasks, where the focus is on the individual, with learning through
association and reinforcement.

2. Cognitive/constructivist – knowledge is seen as more dynamic and expanding
rather than objective and static. The main tasks here are processing and under-
standing information, making sense of the surrounding world. Learning is often
task orientated.

Fig. 2 A theory-based design framework for e-learning (Source: Dabbagh (2005, p. 32))


3. Situative – learning is viewed as social practice and learning through social
interaction in context. The learner has a clear responsibility for his/her own
learning. This approach is therefore “learner centered.”

4. Connectivist – learning through a networked environment. The connectivist
theory advocates a learning organization in which there is not a body of knowl-
edge to be transferred from educator to learner and where learning does not take
place in a single environment; instead, it is distributed across the Web and
people’s engagement with it constitutes learning.

Each of these theories has a number of approaches associated with it which
emphasize different types of learning (Fig. 3). For example, the associative category
includes behaviorism and didactic approaches, the cognitive/constructivist category
includes constructivism (building on prior knowledge) and constructionism (learn-
ing by doing), etc.

The development of the first e-learning platforms supported an instructional
design based on the associative/behaviorist approach. The design process follows
a sequential and linear structure driven by predetermined goals, and the learning
output is also predefined by the learning designer. The designers organize the content
and tasks and break them down from simple to complex. Information is then
delivered to the learner from the simplest to the most complex depending on the
learner’s knowledge.

Building on prior

Focus on individual
Learning through
association and

Learning through
social interaction
Learning in context

Learning in a

Reflective & dialogical
Personalised learning

Inquiry learning

Drill & practice

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