Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning: A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness

Signe Schack Noesgaard, Rikke Ørngreen

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Abstract

A structured search of librarian databases revealed that the research into the effectiveness of e-Learning has heavily increased within the last 5 years. Taking a closer look at the search results, the authors discovered that researchers define and investigate effectiveness in multiple ways. At the same time, learning and development professionals within public and private organizations are increasingly met with a demand to prove the effectiveness of their learning and development initiatives. This paper investigates the concepts of effectiveness in e-Learning. It broadens the definition of effectiveness and qualifies certain measurements of same. Preliminary results from a literature study and an empirical investigation of ‘the effectiveness of e-Learning’ for science teachers (K12) are combined. The paper discusses the following research questions: How is the effectiveness of e-Learning defined? How is the effectiveness of e-Learning measured? What makes e-Learning solutions effective?

The literature study entailed a structured search of literature, which left the authors with 761 relevant abstracts from journal articles. The sorting criteria were that the articles’ topics were on the effectiveness of e-Learning within adult learning contexts, and that the articles were based on an empirical study. The selected abstracts are currently being coded and analyzed in detail. Although this literature study is still a work in progress, the authors have already discovered 19 distinct ways to define effectiveness. The findings indicate that effectiveness is defined as ‘learning outcome’ in 41 % of the articles. Moreover, the most common way to measure the effectiveness is clearly through quantitative methods and a pretest/posttest-setup is most commonly used.

An empirical study of an e-Learning solution for science teachers (K12) brings valuable elements into the discussion of the findings of the literature study. The empirical study suggests that it is difficult to turn e-Learning into improved teaching performance, as the participating teachers for instance apply several strategies to avoid substantial changes to their work practice. Furthermore, the study shows that solely measuring on the fulfilment of pre-defined learning objectives as effectiveness parameters, disallows developers and researchers to see unexpected and unintended transfer to practice based on the e-Learning program. Finally, the research brings valuable input to the discussion of the validity of self-assessments suggesting that participants are able to report on their own practices provided certain qualitative survey approaches. Understanding the many ways to define effectiveness can help learning and development professionals reflect on their practices and thus better target their measuring efforts to counting what counts for them and their stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen
EditorsRikke Ørngreen, Karin Levinsen
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Publication date2014
Pages445-454
ISBN (Print)978-1-910309-67-4
ISBN (Electronic)978‐1‐910309‐69‐8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event13th European Conference on e-Learning - Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 30 Oct 201431 Oct 2014
Conference number: 13

Conference

Conference13th European Conference on e-Learning
Number13
LocationAalborg University, Copenhagen
CountryDenmark
CityCopenhagen
Period30/10/201431/10/2014

Fingerprint

electronic learning
methodology
learning
literature
teacher
learning objective
self-assessment
science
quantitative method
librarian
stakeholder
demand
Teaching

Keywords

  • Effectiveness
  • e-Learning
  • adult learning
  • Measurement
  • literature study
  • Definitions

Cite this

Noesgaard, S. S., & Ørngreen, R. (2014). Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning: A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness. In R. Ørngreen, & K. Levinsen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen (pp. 445-454). Academic Conferences and Publishing International.
Noesgaard, Signe Schack ; Ørngreen, Rikke. / Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning : A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness. Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen. editor / Rikke Ørngreen ; Karin Levinsen. Academic Conferences and Publishing International, 2014. pp. 445-454
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Noesgaard, SS & Ørngreen, R 2014, Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning: A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness. in R Ørngreen & K Levinsen (eds), Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen. Academic Conferences and Publishing International, pp. 445-454, 13th European Conference on e-Learning, Copenhagen, Denmark, 30/10/2014.

Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning : A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness. / Noesgaard, Signe Schack; Ørngreen, Rikke.

Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen. ed. / Rikke Ørngreen; Karin Levinsen. Academic Conferences and Publishing International, 2014. p. 445-454.

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

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Noesgaard SS, Ørngreen R. Understanding and Utilizing the Effectiveness of e‐Learning: A Literature Study on the Definitions, Methodologies, and Promoting Factors of e‐Learning Effectiveness. In Ørngreen R, Levinsen K, editors, Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014 Copenhagen. Academic Conferences and Publishing International. 2014. p. 445-454