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e-Learning in the Disciplines. John Cook Centre Manager Reusable Learning Objects CETL Helen Beetham Research Consultant JISC e-learning programme. Aims. Articulate the essential features of learning and teaching across different subject areas and educational approaches

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e learning in the disciplines

e-Learning in the Disciplines

John CookCentre ManagerReusable Learning Objects CETL

Helen BeethamResearch Consultant JISC e-learning programme

  • Articulate the essential features of learning and teaching across different subject areas and educational approaches
    • curriculum outcomes, challenges, learner characteristics…
  • Relate these to features of different e-learning technologies and applications
    • to identify aspects of e-learning that may be of benefit to different communities
  • Encourage discussion around:
    • differences between disciplines and approaches
    • similarities, and what we can learn from each other
two key commitments
Two key commitments
  • e-learning is not a separate kind of learning
    • we need to re-articulate learning in a new technological context
  • People learn in a multitude of ways
    • different subject areas and educational approaches rely on different capacities-to-learn
    • different communities have evolved different cultures of learning and teaching
    • we need to recognise these differences, while learning from one another
reflective tools
Reflective tools
  • See the reflective questionnaire in the conference area (FINALReflective.doc)
    • articulate educational priorities, outcomes and challenges
    • consider relevant e-learning technologies and applications
    • can be shared with your own and other communities
  • View examples of completed reflections
    • see summaries of previous ‘cognate’ group discussions
    • post your own completed reflection by emailing it to liz.pearce@heacademy.ac.uk
    • Thanks to the HE Academy for hosting these materials and for supporting the symposium
format of the symposium
Format of the symposium
  • This short introduction from John and Helen
  • Summary of previous discussions in cognate discipline groups
  • Position paper from Gordon Joyes
    • Sharing effective learning design processes versus labelling the pedagogy
  • Online discussion
    • 27th and 28th March 2006
    • all welcome, particularly representatives of CETLs and Subject Centres
  • Summaries and ways forward
    • posted evening of 28th March
useful questions
Useful questions
  • In an ALT-C 2005 Symposium, Pearce, Gulc et al. asked: Is subject difference a factor in the use and uptake of e-learning?
  • Put another way: What technologies and approaches are used in the different communities?
blinded by our paradigms
Blinded by our paradigms?
  • First ATM was located inside a bank and was available only during banking hours.
  • Real innovation did not occur until ATMs were placed outside the bank
disciplinary patterns
Disciplinary patterns
  • Academic tribes and territories (Becher and Trowler, 2001)
    • definitions of knowledge, disciplinary organisation
  • Teaching and learning regimes (Trowler and Cooper, 2002)
    • tacit knowledge, troublesome knowledge
  • ... need to develop genuinely shared language
disciplinary patterns of educational technology adoption
Disciplinary patterns of educational technology adoption

“Discipline differences appeared to be potential barrier to the building of new communities of practice around educational technology, and there was a need to know more about how disciplinary factors are influencing the early adopters who form the core of our new communities.”

Carol Russell (2005, p. 64)


Knowledge territories






art theory


english literature


information management

















based on Becher and Trowler (2001), taken from Russell’s ALT-C slides

disciplinary patterns of educational technology adoption11
Disciplinary patterns of educational technology adoption
  • Note that the placing and configuration of the disciplines on the above model will vary between institutions
  • Where do technologies and approaches fit in? Russell found the following.
common features of strategies for hard applied disciplines
Common features of strategies forhard applied disciplines
  • External changes in profession/industry (industry and student context)
  • Technology now essential in gaining core discipline knowledge
  • Educational technology helps students learn
    • more engaging or flexible
common features of strategies for soft applied disciplines
Common features of strategies forsoft applied disciplines
  • Professional knowledge being redefined
    • technology can help develop new skills
  • Technology for skills and information transfer
    • to free class time for developing core knowledge

Common features of strategies forhard/soft pure disciplines

  • Technology can help students engage with core concepts
    • when staff time and resources are limited
  • Knowledge is created through research
    • Technology can help develop research skills

Does this classification scheme help understand disciplinary differences?Are there better or different ways of expressing this?Do you agree that such differences are significant for the effective use of e-learning technologies and approaches?


Becher, T. and Trowler, P. R. (2001). Academic Tribes and Territories (2nd Ed.). Buckingham UK: Society for Research in Higher Education and Open University Press.

Pearce, L., Gulc, E., Grove, M., Lucas, B., and Whistlecroft, L. (2005). Different subjects/subject difference. Symposium 549. ALT-C 2005 Conference, September 6-8, 2006, Manchester, England, UK.

Russell, C. (2005). Disciplinary patterns in adoption of educational technologies. In J. Cook and D. Whitelock (Eds.), Exploring the frontiers of e-learning: Borders, outposts, and migration. Proceedings of the ALT-C 2005 Conference, September 6-8, 2006, Manchester, England, UK (pp. 64-76).

Trowler, P. and Cooper, A. (2002). Teaching and Learning Regimes: Implicit theories and recurrent practices in the enhancement of teaching and learning through educational development programmes. Higher Education Research and Development, 21(3), 221-240.