Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Cork Institute of Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Desmond Keegan


The thesis is about the coming together of two traditions and how they are both changing dynamically in relation to each other, giving rise to a number of discernable organisational, societal, technological and pedagogical trends. Each tradition is examined in turn in the first two chapters, which deal with issues such as what the definitional characteristics of each tradition are and what factors have determined them. Organisational and societal trends in the convergence of traditional higher education and e-learning, as described in chapter three, highlight the tensions between the two traditions, as evidenced in the specific challenges e- learning represents to the norms and values of traditional higher education, such as those of academic freedom, self-governance, and traditional measurements of productivity and quality. E-learning, as described in chapter four, is seen to be changing also in terms of the nature of the underlying technologies which support it, in particular the various learning management systems and the range of emerging e-learning standards, the latter of which hold the promise of a new global learning economy, with reusable resources the new currency of exchange. It is also to higher education which e-leaming must look in providing an underlying pedagogy which will have predictive as well as explanatory power, most likely in the form of a convergent theory which, once again, brings together various perspectives and schools of thought, such as the valuable contributions of distance education theorist like Holmberg and Moore and the major pedagogical schools of behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Finally the conclusion, which also summarises chapters one through to five, makes the case for e-learning as a field in its own right, quite separate from antecedent traditions such as computer-aided learning and distance education, and looks towards some of the research challenges ahead for this new discipline in terms of the above.

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