Blended Learning

Not every e-learning resource, usage or provision is necessarily 'exclusively e-learning', sometimes a hybrid 'blended learning' solution is available, either combining distance learning with direct contact 'close at hand' human educational resources, or combining software driven resources with human intervention (whether remote or local, computer mediated [such as through email or chat] or non-computer mediated [such as face to face or telephone] or combining software driven resources with any other educational resource [TV, radio, books, tapes, etc.]) Advances in technology have allowed for the growth of collaborative web-based learning opportunities. Asynchronous activities use technologies such as blogs, wikis, and discussion boards that feature threaded discussion, and allow participants to contribute when time allows. Synchronous activities occur with all participants joining in at once, as with a chat session or a virtual classroom or meeting.

On the practical side some e-learning is about organizing the topics to be taught and creating multimedia CD-ROMs or web sites. An important advantage is generally seen in the fact that hyper linking is possible and having interactive parts illustrating difficult things or for doing exercises. In higher education especially, the increasing tendency is to create a Managed Learning Environment (MLE which is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) combined with a Managed Information System (MIS)) in which all aspects of a course are handled through a consistent interface that is standard throughout an institution, giving students a consistent user interface.

Often a design approach is implemented which involves creating or re-using Learning Objects. These are self contained units that are properly tagged with keywords, or other metadata, and often stored in an XML file format. These are put in a database and creating a course requires putting together a sequence of learning objects.

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