Open and Distance Learning: Does IT (Still) Matter?

Vitor Cardoso [vcardoso@univ-ab.pt]
Department of Exact Sciences and Technology
Universidade Aberta, Rua da Escola Politecnica, 147
1269-001 Lisboa, Portugal [http://www.univ-ab.pt]
Jose Bidarra [bidarra@univ-ab.pt]
Department of Exact Sciences and Technology
Universidade Aberta, Rua da Escola Politecnica, 147
1269-001 Lisboa, Portugal  [http://www.univ-ab.pt]

English Abstract

The evident standardization of Information Technology (IT) in education, by way of the widespread adoption of robust and dependable Learning Management Systems (LMS), has made distance learning courses possible and easy to mount, even in institutions or universities that had no previous experience in online education. However, based on evidence gathered through the ODL-NET Experience project, we were able to identify major usability problems, quite a number of user difficulties and many LMS limitations. The results of the study show that technology is the solution, on one hand, and that technology is [still] the problem, so the saying technology matters is up to date, even if it represents only one component of a complex blend, involving others like educational organizations, learning content, pedagogical strategies, etc.

Portuguese Abstract

A estabilização evidente das Tecnologias de Informação (TI) na educação, por via da adopção generalizada de Sistemas de Gestão da Aprendizagem (LMS) robustos e seguros, tornou possível e fácil implementar cursos de aprendizagem a distância, até mesmo em instituições ou universidades que nunca tiveram experiência prévia de ensino online. Porém, baseados em dados recolhidos através do projecto ODL-NET Experience, pudemos identificar problemas de usabilidade relevantes, várias dificuldades ao nível do utilizador e muitas limitações de LMS. Os resultados do estudo mostram que a tecnologia é a solução, por um lado, mas que a tecnologia é (ainda) o problema, pelo que a tecnologia continua a ser um tema relevante, mesmo se representa só uma das componentes da mistura complexa que abarca as organizações educacionais, os conteúdos de aprendizagem, as estratégias pedagógicas, etc.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, internet, collaborative learning, MOOC, learning management system, LMS, interaction,

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