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01-02-2013 | Issue 1/2013

Journal of Science Education and Technology 1/2013

What Do We Mean by Cyberlearning: Characterizing a Socially Constructed Definition with Experts and Practitioners

Journal:
Journal of Science Education and Technology > Issue 1/2013
Authors:
Devlin B. Montfort, Shane Brown

Abstract

The term “cyberlearning” reflects a growing national interest in managing the interactions of technology and education, especially with respect to the use of networking and information technologies. However, there is little agreement about what the term means. Such disagreements reflect underlying differences in beliefs about the purposes of education. These disagreements are problematic for anyone interested in evaluating cyberlearning practices. This study used surveys and interviews to investigate how practitioners and experts in the field of cyberlearning define it, how they implement it and what they believe its purpose to be. Little agreement was found among participants in terms of their definitions of cyberlearning, which was supported by the wide variety of practices labeled “cyberlearning.” Although most participants emphasized the purpose of cyberlearning as a form of content delivery, an often-passionate minority argued for the potential of cyberlearning to encourage a shift away from content-delivery paradigms. The participants’ spoke from a variety of perspectives about cyberlearning including as educators, designers, activists, and policymakers, which led them to construct diverse narratives about the purposes and problems facing education and education policy. While the differences in embodied in these narratives remain an important consideration, some emerging points of convergence are identified.

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