The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education

REVIEW: Online Learning and Its Users: Lessons for Higher Education

Reviewed By Mehmet KARA

From the early usage of computers and the internet to the widespread adoption of online education, it has been expected that these novel practices would revolutionize education. The book, online learning and its users (McAvinia, 2016), addresses the expectations and disappointments by presenting and discussing the past, present, and future of online learning in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with a systemic perspective. It specifically focuses on the role of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) based on the literature and current evidence from the field. By users, the author refers to all stakeholders of online learning: lecturers, students, managers, and supporters. Online learning and its users are examined with a sociocultural perspective through the lens of Activity Theory (AT). The author discusses the past and present disappointments in spite of the expectations from online learning that it would change the traditional pedagogy. Based on the current findings from the field through the lens of AT, she proposes lessons for changing or transforming the pedagogy of online learning in HEIs including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), rather than repeating or supporting the traditional practices. In this regard, the book calls for further systemic research addressing theoretical/pedagogical, organizational, and methodological issues impeding the revolution of online teaching and learning practices.

KEYWORDS: Online Learning, higher education, activity theory.