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4. Issue
Fourth Issue - July 2008
Articles / Beiträge
  1. Teachers' professional development in a community

    The goal of this article was to study teachers' professional development related to web-based learning in the context of the teacher community. The object was to learn in what kind of networks teachers share the knowledge of web-based learning and what are the factors in the community that support or challenge teachers professional development of web-based learning. The findings of the study revealed that there are teachers who are especially active, called the central actors in this study, in the teacher community who collaborate and share knowledge of web-based learning. These central actors share both technical and pedagogical knowledge of web-based learning in networks that include both internal and external relations in the community and involve people, artefacts and a variety of media. Furthermore, the central actors appear to bridge different fields of teaching expertise in their community. According to the central actors' experiences the important factors that support teachers' professional development of web-based learning in the community are; the possibility to learn from colleagues and from everyday working practices, an emotionally safe atmosphere, the leader's personal support and community-level commitment. Also, the flexibility in work planning, challenging pupils, shared lessons with colleagues, training events in an authentic work environment and colleagues' professionalism are considered meaningful for professional development. As challenges, the knowledge sharing of web-based learning in the community needs mutual interests, transactive memory, time and facilities, peer support, a safe atmosphere and meaningful pedagogical practices. On the basis of the findings of the study it is suggested that by intensive collaboration related to web-based learning it may be possible to break the boundaries of individual teachership and create such sociocultural activities which support collaborative professional development in the teacher community. Teachers' in-service training programs should be more sensitive to the culture of teacher communities and teachers' reciprocal relations. Further, teacher trainers should design teachers' in-service training of web-based learning in co-evolution with supporting networks which include the media and artefacts as well as people.

  2. Optimizing the learning potential for the distance learning students

    The distance learning programme has made its entrance into nursing education, and many see it as a break with the education’s traditions of teaching in the classroom, in practise rooms and at the patient’s bedside (Chaffin & Maddux 2004). Traditionally, many of the technical skills and personal qualities that nurses must acquire are learned through interaction with others. The distance learning programme has therefore given rise to some new problems and challenges, and this article discusses some of these. Empirically, the article builds on a comparative study of three student nurse classes from two Danish nursing schools, including one based on the distance learning programme. By following both distance learning and traditional nursing students in their clinical training, light is cast upon the differences and similarities that may exist in the clinical skills and competences that the students gain under the two programmes. Theoretically the article builds on Etienne Wengers theory on learning in communities of practice, focusing on the relationship between experience and competence in learning related communities of practice (Wenger 1998;Wenger 2004) . The article contributes with findings that are related to the differences between the programmes and the different types of students that each programme attracts. The article argues that an increased didactic and pedagogical focus upon the field of tension between experience and competence will enable an optimisation of the learning conditions of the distance learning students in their clinical teaching. The article, in conclusion, thus places focus on the questions surrounding teaching design in relation to the distance learning programme.

  3. Lernmanagement-Plattformen revisited: Strategien für die organisatorische Verankerung von Evaluations- und Re-Evaluationsprozessen an der Universität Trier

    Zentrale Lernmanagement-Plattformen sind mittlerweile an vielen Hochschulen Standard. Damit diese Plattformen nachhaltig genutzt werden, müssen bei der Bewertung die vielfältigen Interessen von Lehrenden, Studierenden, zentralen Einrichtungen bis hin zur Hochschulleitung berücksichtigt werden. Dies gilt sowohl für die Evaluationsprozesse zur Einführung von Lernplattformen, wie auch für Re-Evaluationsprozesse, die notwendig sind, um die Infrastruktur einer Hochschule den sich verändernden Bedürfnissen und Rahmenbedingungen anpassen zu können. An der Universität Trier wurde bzw. werden (Re-)Evaluationsverfahren durchgeführt, bei denen systematisch alle Stakeholder der Hochschule einbezogen werden. Grundlage dafür ist ein Netzwerk aller E-Learning-Support- und Entwicklungseinrichtungen der Universität, das im Rahmen eines Projektes zur E-Learning-Integration etabliert wurde. Der Artikel stellt als Fallstudie die Konzepte für die Evaluations- und Re-Evaluationsprozesse an der Universität Trier vor. Dabei wird weniger auf das Verfahren selbst hinsichtlich der Kriterienwahl und Bewertung sowie den Ergebnissen fokussiert, sondern vielmehr auf Rollen und Aufgaben der Akteure in diesen Entscheidungsprozessen.

Project reports / Projektberichte
  1. Berufsschulen auf dem Weg zum E-Learning

    Das Primärziel des BLK-Modellversuchs „E-Learning zur Unterstützung des Lernfeldkonzepts (ELLFE)“ ist die Entwicklung und Ausgestaltung des Lernfeldkonzepts durch E-Learning-gestützte Lernsituationen. Der mediale Schwerpunkt soll erprobt werden, da angenommen wird, dass der Lernfeldunterricht durch die Potentiale des E-Learning flankiert werden kann. Der Artikel stellt neben den theoretischen Vorüberlegungen zu dem Projekt einige konkrete Umsetzungsbeispiele sowie gegenwärtige Evaluationsbefunde vor.

  2. Rollout of CampusContent

    CampusContent (CC) is a DFG-funded competence center for eLearning with its own portal. It links content and people who support sharing and reuse of high quality learning materials and codified pedagogical know-how, such as learning objectives, pedagogical scenarios, recommended learning activities, and learning paths. The heart of the portal is a distributed repository whose contents are linked to various other CampusContent portals. Integrated into each portal are user-friendly tools for designing reusable learning content, exercises, and templates for learning units and courses. Specialized authoring tools permit the configuration, adaption, and automatic generation of interactive Flash animations using Adobe's Flexbuilder technology. More coarse-grained content components such as complete learning units and entire courses, in which contents and materials taken from the repository are embedded, can be created with XML-based authoring tools. Open service interface allow the deep or shallow integration of the portal provider's preferred authoring and learning tools. The portal is built on top of the Enterprise Content Management System Alfresco, which comes with social networking functionality that has been adapted to accommmodate collaboration, sharing and reuse within trusted communities of practice.

  3. The impact of new technologies on distance learning students

    This is a European Commission Leonardo da Vinci Reference Material project on the impact of new technology on distance learning students. It is known that all the Ministries of Education of the 27 European Union countries pay millions of Euros annually in the provision of educational technology for their schools, colleges and universities. A review of the literature of the impact of technology, however, showed that the research in this field was unacceptably fragile. What research there was focused on the impact of technology on children in American schools. The project set out, therefore, to measure the impact of technology on adult education, lifelong learning and distance education, with a particular focus on adult distance learning.


Recently, in a project review meeting I heard a reviewer saying: “e-learning is no research topic anymore. We should not fund the e-learning component of this project.” I was puzzled. Maybe he was right – at least if we reduce the concept e-learning to the provision of digital learning content and digital technologies supporting the learning processes. Online learning (Anderson & Elloumi, 2004) has entered the mainstream (The Sloan Consortium, 2004). The e-learning industry expands continuously, competing with well-received educational open source products. Lots of learning management platforms have been built and used; e-learning scenarios and software tools supporting content authoring, learning path and activity design, communication, collaboration and group work, testing and assessment, portfolio management, and other e-educational activities became commodities; these developments are backed up by e-learning standards aiming at the interoperability of tools and applications, the portability of content and educational scenarios from platform to platform, and the compatibility of cross-system and cross-institution workflows. Many (higher) educational institutions have already defined their strategy and implementation plan for developing and embedding e-learning or are already using it in their daily practice.

If this were the end of the story, we could close our journal or – at least - the scientific paper section. But luckily there is a growing awareness among researchers, practitioners and organisations that a mere technology-focussed approach does not guarantee better teaching and learning experiences. Education theorists like Benjamin Bloom, Burrhus F. Skinner, and many others devoted much of their life to understand the possibilities and psychology of education, human behaviour and the growth of knowledge. As they lived at a different time and as I believe that opportunities create new intentions and actions, some of their findings need to be and are reconsidered in the context of e-learning.

The whole field of educational technology aims to transform educational and psychological theories into meaningful pedagogical practices. It also tries to provide qualitative and quantitative evidence that the use of digital technology and novel pedagogical approaches like web pedagogy, online learning, or personalised and adaptive learning affects educational processes positively. My impression is education technologists are highly sought and are facing challenges that provide plenty of work for the future. Technology-wise usability is far from perfect, and ongoing developments in the Internet like Web 2.0 and higher are creating further changes. Large deficits still exist in our understanding of knowledge and experience sharing processes and mechanisms and the role of web communities in educational contexts.

So we can be in good hope for future high quality submissions addressing, e.g., technological novelties, innovative educational scenarios, or commoditised content production methods, always in combination with evidence demonstrating a pedagogical or otherwise manifested added value.

The articles of this issue support these observations. But before I briefly get to the scientific contributions of this issue, I wanted to respond to a question, we are frequently asked: „Is it possible to edit a special issue with scientific papers on a particular topic?“ Our answer is: Yes! Propose a topic, describe how you plan to acquire and select high quality contributions, and suggest a tentative publication date. We will discuss your suggestion with the editorial board members and give you a qualified feedback.

The paper by Ryymin, Lallimo and Hakkarainen presents the findings of empirical research work that tried to understand the behaviour of teachers who are involved in web-based learning applications in schools and who form a community of practice whose aim is to share professional experience and evolve its members’ proficiency in that field. Social network analysis, interviews and phenomenographic methods were used as tools in this research, where the latter is a qualitative approach to determine how individuals constitute the meaning of a phenomenon. Both the combination of research methods applied and the findings, which have a potential to carry over to other communities of practice, make the paper valuable to read.

Starting point of the paper by Fredskild are the potential deficits of the distance teaching model in nursing education in which the interaction between peer and apprentice is a basic mechanism of the learning process, especially during clinical training. The author presents the results of a comparative study of two traditional nursing schools and a distance learning programme. The study examines differences and similarities in skills and competences acquired, differences between the programmes, and differences in types of students attracted. In conclusion the authors suggests some guidelines to the teaching design in distance programmes.

The third article (in German) by Jäckel, Leuenhagen and Röpke addresses infrastructural and strategic issues related to the organisational embodiment and sustainably effective use of learning management systems in universities. The stepwise process adopted by the University of Trier with the components: organisational structure, LMS evaluation, selection criteria, recommendation, and regular re-evaluation are presented in detail together with a range of lessons learned.

Bernd Krämer