What’s not to like? A review of “The e-Learning Reader”

The e-Learning Reader (2012) Sara de Fraitas and Jill Jameson (eds), Continuum

This a book is an edited collection of some of the seminal thinkers in the field of educational literature.  The editors, Sara de Fraitas and Jill Jameson, have identified some of the key writings that have influenced the debates in e-Learning.  These pieces include chapters of books, journal articles and some pieces authored for the book.  The book is divided into four sections and each section includes some seminal works in the field and then some writers who have applied these ideas to their use in e-Learning.

The first section covers experiential learning with chapters from Kolb, Dewey, Piaget among others.  The second section focuses on developmental learning with chapters authored by Illich, Papert and Laurillard (and others).  The third section is Instructional Design featuring Skinner, Ausubel and Gur and Willey.  Cognitive Learning is the focus of the fourth section and the authors chosen include Jonassen. The ideas are applied to e-Learning with chapters from Tim Berners-Lee and Grainne Conole (and others).  Finally the focus is on social interaction as a learning approach.  The works are provided by Friere, Boudieu and Wenger: as someone working in academia who enjoys theory, critique and debate, this volume has it all!  As I said, what’s not to like?

Alongside the writers who are seminal in the general educational area are some articles written particularly to address debates in the e-Learning field. For instance Bennett et Maton’s article published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning which deconstructs and critiques the term digital natives is included.  Similarly Joint’s work entitled If Google Makes You Stupid, What Should Librarians Do About It? is a well argued rebuff to those who suggest that increased exposure to the internet is undermining our cognitive ability.

Thus this book provides an excellent reference point for anyone interested in the theoretical debates and how they have informed our practice in the field of e-Learning.  As its name suggests, it is a Reader, so focuses more particularly on theoretical perspective on the topic rather than exploring policy and practice, or evaluation.  However what it sets out to do it does very well.  At £32 for the paper back it is good value, saving you hundreds of pounds on buying the authors separately.

Dr Liz Bennett, Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning
University of Huddersfield

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