What is E-Learning?
Overcoming Time/Place Barriers
Blended Learning
E-Learning Architecture
The Benefits
Technology Overview

  E-Learning > Technology Overview 

Technology Overview

The primary technology driving E-Learning has been client-server networking — that has allowed the web browser and related technologies to evolve as tools of instruction. The Internet brought us into the era of global information networks allowing access, publishing, archiving, communication and e-commerce. The Intranet has provided the technology infrastructure for enterprise networking that has totally transformed business communication. Achieving this required the establishment of web standards to make these technologies interoperable across the industry and marketplace, and is due primarily to the work of the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org/). The following web-based technologies are an essential part of this evolution.

HTML An acronym for a HyperText Markup Language. HTML is the language used to tag various parts of a Web document so browsing software will know how to display that document's links, text, graphics and attached media. HTML brought about a universal browser environment for hyperlinking, hypermedia, and content presentation.
CSS Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a simple mechanism for adding style (e.g. fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents. It provides a standard markup language that enables presentation to be separated from content. CSS defines one or more styles on a single web page or group of web pages. The styles determine how information is displayed in browsers. Most current browsers support the new CSS standard. The ability to separate presentation from content provides much needed flexibility in publishing.
DOM The Document Object Model (DOM) is a platform- and language-neutral interface that will allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure and style of documents.
JavaScript / ECMA script JavaScript is intended to provide a quicker and simpler language for enhancing Web pages and servers. It is embedded as a small program in a web page that is interpreted and executed by the Web client. JavaScript can be used to fully control Netscape and Microsoft Web browsers, including all the familiar browser attributes. The JavaScript specification has been turned over to the European Computer Manufacturers Association as an open scripting language for the Web. This new standard language is called ECMAScript.
XML A new markup language standard created by the W3C with many similarities to HTML. What XML adds is the ability to define custom tags, and define the meaning of those tags within the XML document itself. Thus the term "extensible." Additionally, the associated XSL style sheet language allows XML docs to be dramatically transformed from one document type to another.
DHTML Dynamic HTML (DHTML) is a mixture of standards including HTML, style sheets, the Document Object Model and scripting. DHTML is a collective term for the combination of new standards that lets you create Web pages that are more animated and more responsive to user interaction than previous versions of HTML.
Collaborative Tools Specialized web servers and web applications that allow learners to work with others . Collaboration may be asynchronous (e.g., e-mail , threaded discussion forum) or synchronous (e.g., chat, instant messaging, virtual classrooms).

The following chart is from a presentation by Stanford Research Institute Consulting Business Intelligence group (March 2002). It describes SRI's view of the major enabling technologies which have fostered E-Learning development. It suggests that growth of the E-Learning marketplace is a direct result of expanding the technology platform installed base (PCs, CD-ROM and Internet) and the enhanced capabilities provided by that platform over time.

Note that SRI sees that future market growth in E-Learning will be driven by more effective simulation learning tools, peer-to-peer collaboration, wireless connectivity, and Learning Object design.

The technology infrastructure of E-Learning provides the mechanism for automated course delivery and lesson presentation. Here is a list of the major elements of instruction that are enhanced by this automation.

E-Learning Lesson Presentation

  • Self-checks -- questions interspersed within the instruction
  • Lesson and module quizzes
  • Positive and negative examples
  • Mixed media -- text, audio and visual
  • Review
  • Mnemonic devices
  • Content chunking -- breaking up the content into manageable and logical topics and lessons as well as individual nuggets of instruction
  • Letting learners practice — with feedback

E-Learning Course Delivery

  • Tutorial presentation (receptive & directive learning)
  • Guided discovery
  • Role-play
  • Guided and unguided demonstrations
  • Simulations and practice
  • Gaming
  • Storytelling
  • Exploratory learning
  • Mentoring


  2003 Cognitive Design Solutions, Inc.


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