As usual, Stephen Downes manages to inform and challenge:
What makes e-learning effective is, of course, typically in the eye of the beholder. One person’s toast and jam may be another person’s steak and kidney pie. This is what makes the drafting of a set of guidelines for effective e-learning so difficult. Follow the guidelines exactly, and you still may have provided some e-learning which, while it satisfies the CEO’s artistic eye, does not capture the attention and interest of the students.
Good e-learning practice, indeed, may not even flow from the principles of pedagogy at all. As my colleague Jay Cross points out, the bulk of learning, even in a corporate environment, is comprised by informal learning. Techniques that work in the classroom are not so likely to work on the web page, primarily because much of what makes a classroom a classroom – the scheduling, the lesson plans and direction, the cohort – are not likely to be present online.
The rest of the paper highlights three criteria – interaction, usability and relevance – as key to effective e-Learning.