The Sage Handbook of E-learning Research
Kurtis Clements is an assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. He has been teaching writing and literature courses since 1993 and has been involved in online higher education for twenty years.
The Sage Handbook of E-learning Research, Second Edition, is a comprehensive collection of chapters that explores the essential areas in the field of e-learning. The handbook, which is comprised of twenty-six articles from a cadre of about fifty different international writers, is well worth the time it will take to read cover to cover; indeed, the editors have done a thorough job gathering content from noted experts in the field and organizing the material into six themed sections: theory; literacy and learning; methods and perspectives; pedagogy and practice; beyond the classroom; and futures. The collection provides an excellent representation of the best research in the field and thus serves as a foundation for the research that will follow. In a field that changes as quickly as the technology, The Sage Handbook of E-Learning Research does an excellent job covering the breadth of the research, looking at the past, considering the present, and imagining the future.
Each of the six sections helps to organize the book in a way that not only makes sense, but it also allows the reader to focus on one specific aspect of e-learning research. The Beyond the Classroom section, for example, includes chapters that explore such topics as “Literacy and the Digital University,” “Promoting Policy Uptake for Educational Resources,” “E-Learning and Libraries,” “E-Learning and Museums,” and “Designing for Lifelong Learning.” Each thematic set of readings--in this section and throughout--provides a good review of the literature and examines the subject in terms of both learning and the role technology factors into that learning. For instance, in the chapter titled “E-Learning and Libraries,” Bhimani first sets the context by thinking about twenty-first century libraries and the changing nature of information literacy, and then discusses the research in terms of the impact technology has on how libraries are being used, the difficulties students face understanding, locating, and interacting with content, and the need for libraries, IT specialists, and educators to collaborate so as to create learning environments and experiences that prepare students to be competitive in today’s workplace.
One of the refreshing aspects of the handbook is the inclusion of chapters that examine such “newer” topics as the use of social media and gaming in online instruction. Although more research is needed in both of these areas, much research has already been conducted, and each of these chapters offers a good balance of the technology, the research, and the challenges in terms of using these technologies as sound educational tools.
While the discussions offer something for both scholars and practitioners, the overall tenor of the book is clearly best suited for researchers and those engaged in advanced study who have some understanding of theory and research methodologies and thus would not be intimidated by the complex discussions. That said, one of the best “takeaways” from these chapters for both researchers and practitioners is the long lists of references which would be invaluable in expediting follow-up research as well as gaining a familiarity with the body of literature.