Communication Management and Control in Distance Learning Scenarios

By Bodendorf, Freimut; Schertler, Manfred | Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology, Annual 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Communication Management and Control in Distance Learning Scenarios

Bodendorf, Freimut, Schertler, Manfred, Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology


Communication plays a major role in successful e-learning scenarios. Most of the e-learning or learning management software environments available on the market offer at least some kind of communication support. But the focus of e-education still lies on producing content and distributing course material via the Internet. In spite of the fact that knowledge is growing faster and faster and the need for e-learning that is up-to-date is obvious, just providing well structured and preprocessed content is not sufficient to fulfill the goals of modern education. Only discussing, applying and working with the acquired new knowledge builds up the competencies that students need to face the challenges of their professional and private life (Salmon, 2000).

An approach to place emphasis on communication in contrast to just providing content is to separate content-related and communicational aspects of learning environments. This approach is part of the e-learning research activities at the Department of Information Systems at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Schertler & Bodendorf, 2002). Besides the need for content students demand intellectual exchange, individual advice, and personal guidance. Based on elementary communication patterns and an effective and efficient technical infrastructure a set of reference communication processes has been created to be carried out depending on the chosen teaching method (for example lectures, exercises, tutorials, case studies, business games, role plays and so forth).

A support system for so called scheduled learning in e-learning scenarios is presented. Scheduled learning is a paradigm that is mainly based on a tight time structure (schedule) of an e-learning process. The term scheduled refers to a precise and detailed placement of learning and teaching acts within one educational scenario. The schedule has the following objectives:

* Each participant, either student or tutor, is able to determine at any time, which tasks are handled at the moment and which tasks are to be solved in the near future. A possible "lost-in-elearning", similar to "lost-in-hyperspace", can be prevented.

* Organization of group learning processes is simplified. The schedule eases the coordination of sub-processes like assigning tasks to group members, making decisions on group learning strategies and so forth.

* Communication processes between tutors and students as well as among students themselves are carried out in a more systematic way. Communication problems not particularly concerning the contents of an e-learning course are reduced.

* Mapping of supporting tools with teaching or learning acts is facilitated. The tool allocation makes more sense and learners as well as tutors are not overstrained by an excessive supply of communication channels. The development of communication process descriptions and corresponding communication channel support is mainly task of full-time didactical designers in an educational institution. As regular tutors often are seasonal staff they may neither have the expertise nor the time to define communication processes and tool support by themselves.

E-learning scenarios live on a tight over-all organization. Disordered communication processes lower learning success and motivation to go on with a course. A schedule of default actions supports target-oriented processes and learning flows.


In a traditional classroom many communication problems do not arise because they dissolve en passant. Tutors and students use verbal, non-verbal and paraverbal techniques to channel their communication acts either on purpose or by incident. In e-learning scenarios conditions are different. Problems emerge from temporal and regional distribution, the broad variety of so-called supportive tools and a lack of guidance during communication (Schertler & Bodendorf, 2002). The most outstanding problems are:

* Tutors have problems to react to student's behavior in a proper way because they cannot rely on non- or paraverbal behavior (Boudourides, 1995) as they do in conventional courses to control the class.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Communication Management and Control in Distance Learning Scenarios


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?