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Journal Article

The E‑Learning Setting Circle: First Steps Toward Theory Development in E‑Learning Research  pp94-104

Marco Rüth, Kai Kaspar

© Apr 2017 Volume 15 Issue 1, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp1 - 103

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E‑learning projects and related research generate an increasing amount of evidence within and across various disciplines and contexts. The field is very heterogeneous as e‑learning approaches are often characterized by rather unique combinations of situational factors that guide the design and realization of e‑learning in a bottom‑up fashion. Comprehensive theories of e‑learning that allow deductive reasoning and hence a more top‑down strategy are missing so far, but they are highly desirable. In view of the current situation, inductive reasoning is the prevalent way of scientific progress in e‑learning research and the first step toward theory development: individual projects provide the insights necessary to gradually build up comprehensive theories and models. In this context, comparability and generalizability of project results are the keys to success. Here we propose a new model – the E‑Learning Setting Circle – that will promote comparability and generalizability of project results by structuring, standardizing, and guiding e‑learning approaches at the level of a general research methodology. The model comprises three clusters – context setting, structure setting, and content setting – each of which comprises three individual issues that are not necessarily sequential but frequently encountered in e‑learning projects. Two further elements are incorporated: on the one hand, we delineate the central role of objective setting and the assessment of the goal attainment level (guiding element); on the other hand, we highlight the importance of multi‑criteria decision‑making (universal element). Overall, the proposed circular model is a strategic framework intended to foster theory development in the area of e‑learning projects and research.


Keywords: e-learning research, e-learning projects, research methodology, theory development, major project issues, decision-making, new model


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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 1 / Apr 2017  pp1‑103

Editor: Robert Ramberg

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Keywords: academic staff, attitudes, clinical education, communication, communities, competencies, courses, critical theory, decision-making, Distance learning, e-learning, e-learning projects, e-learning research, E-Learning team, ethical issues, ethnography, expectations, formative e-assessment, Foucault, gaps, health promotion, learning analytics, major project issues, mathematics, Mobile eye tracking methods, motivation, motivation to learn, motivational gap, new model, online distance learning, pedagogy, perception bias, power, pre-course, qualitative research, quality, quality indicators, quality of e-learning, research methodology, satisfaction, service, socio-cultural contexts, staff development, STEM, technology, theory development, training management, training motivation, visitor studies, visual ethnography


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