Mon 21st May 2007 - 23:00

HELIOS: Redefining e-Learning Territories

Thus, it could very well be true that the evolution of e-Learning over recent years has corresponded to its functional differentiation.

However, it is not possible to assume that the only divisions of evolution for e-Learning are to be associated purely with functional differentiation in social sub-systems. Many other possible divisions are emerging (e.g. by sector, purpose and target group) and have contributed to a growing differentiation of e-Learning. Moreover, technology enables an increasing number of scenarios of use; e-Learning has been often associated to face to face learning in blended formats and country-specific e-Learning developments can be identified.

Instead of focusing on unidirectional laws of evolution, taking a descriptive and inductive approach and attempting to insulate and spot coherent areas of e-Learning, it is probably more appropriate to capture a multiform phenomenon such as e-Learning.

Therefore, this article presents the so-called ‘e-Learning Territories’, created by the HELIOS consortium. The e-Learning Territories are considered useful for several reasons:

  • They help to overcome views on purely functional differentiations of e-Learning and its development;
  • They contribute to overcoming the debate on the disappearance versus full deployment of e-Learning, as it is argued that e-Learning is at different evolutionary stages in different territories;
  • They provide a platform for dialogue for practitioners and policy-makers, and they are expected to nurture the research agenda of researchers;
  • They support networking, coordination and integration among sectoral, specialised and national observatories and projects;
  • They promote ‘benchlearning’, as they suggest a shift from comparative assessments towards reflective and adaptive analysis;
  • They therefore contribute to the identification and collection of relevant indicators on e-Learning development and impact within each territory.
  • They can finally be used as a roadmap for e-Learning developments, starting from a territorial, instead of an aggregating, position.

For a long time, the evolution of industrial society has been represented in terms of growing functional differentiation between different social spheres. According to this paradigm, the more a social phenomenon is developing, the more it moves from an undifferentiated nature to its differentiation into different social spheres or systems, assuming different functions in each of these.

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