Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 90–102 | Cite as

What Do We Mean by Cyberlearning: Characterizing a Socially Constructed Definition with Experts and Practitioners

Article

Abstract

The term “cyberlearning” reflects a growing national interest in managing the interactions of technology and education, especially with respect to the use of networking and information technologies. However, there is little agreement about what the term means. Such disagreements reflect underlying differences in beliefs about the purposes of education. These disagreements are problematic for anyone interested in evaluating cyberlearning practices. This study used surveys and interviews to investigate how practitioners and experts in the field of cyberlearning define it, how they implement it and what they believe its purpose to be. Little agreement was found among participants in terms of their definitions of cyberlearning, which was supported by the wide variety of practices labeled “cyberlearning.” Although most participants emphasized the purpose of cyberlearning as a form of content delivery, an often-passionate minority argued for the potential of cyberlearning to encourage a shift away from content-delivery paradigms. The participants’ spoke from a variety of perspectives about cyberlearning including as educators, designers, activists, and policymakers, which led them to construct diverse narratives about the purposes and problems facing education and education policy. While the differences in embodied in these narratives remain an important consideration, some emerging points of convergence are identified.

Keywords

Cyberlearning Pedagogy Educational technology policies 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This report was prepared during an internship funded by Washington State University’s “Nitrogen Systems: Policy-oriented Integrated Research and Education” (NSPIRE) program (NSF grant number DGE—0903714) for Russell Pimmel, a Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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