e-Learning Ecologies

This course introduces innovative approaches to learning and teaching, with a focus on the use of e-learning and social web technologies.

About The Course

For more than 3 decades we have heard educators and technologists making a case for the transformative power of technology in learning. However, despite the rhetoric, in many sites and many ways education is still relatively untouched by technology. Even when technologies are introduced, the changes sometimes seem insignificant and the results seem disappointing. If the print textbook is replaced by an e-book, do the social relations of knowledge and learning necessarily change at all or for the better? If the pen-and-paper test is mechanized, does this change the nature of our assessment systems? Technology, in other words, need not necessarily bring significant change. Technology might not even represent a step forward in education.

This course explores 7 affordances of e-learning ecologies, which open up genuine possibilities for what we call New Learning—transformative, 21st century learning:

  1. Ubiquitous Learning
  2. Active Knowledge Making
  3. Multimodal Meaning
  4. Recursive Feedback
  5. Collaborative Intelligence
  6. Metacognition
  7. Differentiated Learning

These affordances, if recognized and harnessed, will prepare learners for success in a world that is increasingly dominated by digital information flows and tools for communication in the workplace, public spaces, and personal life. This course offers a wide variety of examples of learning technologies and technology implementations that, to varying degrees, demonstrate these affordances in action.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can I earn for completing this course?

You can earn a Verified Certificate by joining Signature Track and completing the Advanced (A) level of participation. If you decide not to join Signature Track, you can still participate in the complete course. Your final score will be noted on your course records page, and you will receive a separate badge from Illinois corresponding to the level of participation you demonstrated throughout the course.

What resources will I need for this class?

For this course, all you need is an Internet connection and the time to read, write, discuss, and enjoy exploring some exciting ideas about the nature of knowledge and learning in the context of new media and digital information and communications technologies.

See what others have to say about this course! "You have provided an EXCELLENT framework to peruse, both for the initial stages, and how to scaffold, as students acquire new skills!" -P.B. "I liked the material and concepts covered. I learnt a lot and hope to continue my learning on online teaching and pedagogy!" -S.R. "[I] learned quite a lot and found the lectures engaging and insightful." -H.J.


Illinois is a world leader in research, teaching, and public engagement, distinguished by the breadth of our programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty.

Join the Illinois community for e-Learning Ecologies:


Images source: Flickr / algogenius

Recommended Background

This course is designed for people interested in the future of education and the "learning society," including people who may wish to join education as a profession, practicing teachers interested in exploring future directions for a vocation that is currently undergoing transformation, and community and workplace leaders who regard their mission to be in part "educative."