Reflections on Elearning : From Helen Beetham

Chapter 2 Beetham

With the central importance of activity on the part of the learner.

‘Several decades of research support the view that it is the activity that the learner engages in, and the outcomes of that activity, that are significant for learning (e.g. Tergan 1997) REFERENCE Sharpe (2007:26)

Learners need opportunities to make a newly acquired concept or skill their own: to draw on their own strengths and preferences, and to extend their repertoire of approaches to task requirements. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:26)

A learning activity is an entity that is meaningful to the learner, given his or her current level of expertise. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:27)

(You don’t hand someone, who has never played an instrument, a flute and put them in an orchestra; nor do you take a Grade 8 qualified flautist, hand them a Kazoo and put them in a marching band, yet when students today are given the opportunity to bring the technologies they use into learning these disparities occur, with some having considerable levels of experience and expertise, while others may have only a passing knowledge if any at all).

· Authenticity of the activity

· Formality and structure

· Retention/reproduction versus reflection/internalization

· The role and importance of other people

· Locus of control


Fig. 2.1 An outline for a learning activity

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:29)

Loosely derived from Engestrom 1999

Learning outcome: some identifiable change that is anticipated in the learner.

Individual learning logs and e-portfolios allow learners to collate evidence towards broadly defined learning goals, and to reflect on their progress. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:30)

Problems with technology:

· Frustration and alienation

· Time management

· Gender

· Culture

· First language

Tasks experienced quite differently based on the technology used and the social and cultural meanings these carry.

The main intrinsic benefits of digital resources are their greater flexibility of access, reproduction and manipulation. Simply being able to study at a time, place and pace to suit them can profoundly change learners’ relationships with conceptual material.

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:34)

· Research tasks

· Searching databases

· Evaluating online resources

· Comprehension tasks

· Answering questions

· Note-taking

· Mind-mapping

N.B. No technologies should be introduced to the learning situation without consideration of learners’ confidence and competence in their use.

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:36)

N.B. Vygotsky (1986) argued that learning is a socially mediated activity in the first instance, with concepts and skills being internalized only after they have been mastered in a collaborative context.

At more advanced levels learners may prefer to learn alone. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:36)


Tergan, S. (1997) ‘Misleading theoretical assumptions in hypertext/hypermedia research’, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 6 (3-4): 257-83.


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