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Online learning as a key breakthrough on innovative education

General perspectives from Chinese research 
Daniel Burgos
Référence(s) :

Guanglu, S., Jianhou, G., Shuai, L., Fei, L., & Zeguang, L. (2019). e-Learning, e-Education, and Online Training. Proceedings of 5th EAI International Conference, eLEOT 2019, Kunming, China, August 18–19, 2019. Retrieved from: DOI:

Cet article est une traduction de :
L'apprentissage en ligne, une réelle avancée pour une éducation innovante [fr]

Texte intégral


1For this book review, we have chosen to present the Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on e-Learning, e-Education, and Online Training (eLEOT 2019) held in Kunming (China) last August. The 46 papers focus on the most recent and innovative trends in this broad area, included supporting case studies.

2In view of this issue, it seems interesting to further consider the latest trends, as presented in Asia. Indeed, this compendium of conference papers give us a better understanding of hot topics in Chinese research in the field of e-learning.

3The editors combine under a single heading three concepts that might look the same to a non-specialist, but slightly different from one another: E-Learning involves the online activity of a user to acquire knowledge, competences or skills; e-Education involves the overall layer that addresses transversal assets, i.e. methodology, assessment, planning; and Online Training concentrates on the teaching tools and strategy to perform better as a school teacher or a university lecturer.

Notes and reflections about the compendium

4The first section, Blended Learning and Social Networks actually becomes the very center of the book. It is also clearly aligned with the main topic of this special issue, focused on a combination of online and face-to-face settings. This section also addresses common topics on Technology-enhanced Learning like games, gamification and flipped classroom, closely related to other sections in the book. All of them facilitate the integration of formal and informal settings, which is a new meaning of Blended Learning, nowadays.

5Academic programs follow strict rules for accreditation. This formal type of learning follows a specific methodology with patterned lecturing, tracking, assessment and grading processes. On the other side, informal learning facilitates user involvement anytime and anywhere, with a high level of engagement. Despite the recent surge of interest in informal learning and open educational resources, their adoption in everyday classroom practice is still slow, since they highlight the difficulty of communication among the different stakeholders involved in the process of adopting an open innovation approach at the classroom level as an important issue to address. Usability and perceived usefulness are also issues that affect the adoption of any technological innovation, and they have been earmarked as difficult and important topics to be evaluated in learning analytics systems. In addition, online learning, both in formal, but mostly in informal settings like i.e. social networks, stores, categorizes and processes big data coming from user behavior and tracking. This information can be used to tailor the learning and teaching experiences to the personal expectations and the group objectives.

6Thanks to current and historical data, an informed system can provide individualized recommendations to make progress on a diversity of indicators: interaction, early production, assistance, content production, etc. A combined model that works with formal and informal learning allows for integration of techniques to engage the learner and the teacher in an interconnected setting, and to produce adaptive and personalized open and innovative educational practices.

7The second section explores Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as an innovative way to teach and learn. Normally, the use of Open Educational Resources or Practices relies on the good will and commitment of individuals like teachers or parents. A member of the educational community is aware that Open Education is useful in a certain context and they encourage others to use, re-use, create and share in an open environment. However, this approach usually fades out when the interest, time, health or effort from that individual fades out too. On occasion, a group of teachers team up and create a working group or an association, which help modelling and implementing the same approach about openness, but they face the same issues that a single individual, eventually.

8To be really effective and long-lasting the integration of open innovative practice in education must be a choral effort, fully engaged in the community and fully supported by every stakeholder. MOOCs allow for a structured way to access and share knowledge into the open. This approach means that every single actor in the field, in accordance with their own needs and abilities, might use, help to design and contribute content within and for the very same community. In doing so, that very community ensures a deep and wide implementation of the recommendations, reflections and regulations approved by the same community. This section shows a number of practical experiences that apply MOOCs to specific context, to become case studies for the community.

9The fourth section, and we jump ahead for a reason that will be revealed later, leads with best practices and models. An educational model must be necessarily linked to the market, so that the student does not acquire competences for nothing, but with a further purpose. These models are the backbone that connects learning results with required skills and knowledge in the market. Without the competences, the skills and the learning results, both sides of the same coin are unconnected, which might lead to unemployed graduates or to qualified workers without an academic degree. An educational model, expressed in the form of success studies practically applied in the classroom, facilitates the communication and de facto normalization of different views on the same field. Thanks to the open and free sharing, discussion, contribution, re-use and distribution of organized systems of case studies, a community can make them inter-operable, with more resources and channels to assess, refine and match the competences with the actual market needs.

10The third and fifth sections present Technology-enhanced Learning cases, what they call New Technology Applied in Education, including learning analytics: From a software application working with honest and moral education, to a program based on machine vision, through wireless sensor networks. Although it is presented as a breakthrough in technology in fact the papers in the section are more focused on educational experiences in the classroom when dealing with the ICT concepts. Educational technology is a driver for innovative education that can be used so as to better teach and better learn. There is a special focus on technologies applied to education and assessment, with a clear focus on big data, artificial intelligence and data analytics. Tailoring instruction to students' needs in the case of online assessment is difficult because of the communicative disconnection that commonly arises in such an educational setting. Decision support systems provide help by automatically collecting students’ data and presenting them to the teacher in the proper context, so that an accurate online assessment can take place, thanks to the combination of semi-automatic processes and personalized feedback.

11Data analysis techniques are a current field of study that is receiving attention from the educational research community. Data analysis applied to education can be considered from two different perspectives: educational data mining and learning analytics. The former focuses on the techniques and algorithms and how to improve them; the latter focuses on how the educational scenario can obtain benefits from these techniques. The underlying idea of learning analytics is to analyze data that arise from educational scenarios and derive information that will be useful to enrich the teaching/learning process. Furthermore, distance learning is of special relevance in the learning analytics field for two main reasons: Firstly, in online scenarios, the teachers and the students have the virtual learning environment (VLE) as their only interaction point. Therefore, it becomes easier than in classroom or blended settings to capture most of the participants’ activity in the course. Secondly, online education usually suffers from communicative disconnection; therefore, it is especially relevant to establish informative methods to understand what is happening in the course and how learners are reacting to the course. Furthermore, the interplay between learning analytics and learning design has gained expanding interest in the educational community, since learning analytics can be a powerful tool to inform data-driven design decisions.


12Educational technology, online learning and Open Education are key pillars in modern academic and professional settings. Large countries like China have benefited from significant experience in terms of open and distance learning. This longevity has enabled them to respond effectively to the challenge of mass education since the 1970s. In the era of digital globalization, they now become an endless source of data to create, use and share resources; also, to retrieve (consented) information about the learners’ and the teachers’ behavior and performance. From informal learning and non-formal learning thanks to thousands of educational pills on the Internet, like videos, wikis, MOOCs and other Open Educational Resources; to a variety of tools, software applications and technological improvements, like blockchain, cloud computing, immersive scenarios, serious games and a long etcetera; education is now enhanced. The student and the teacher are more connected to work on their topics, they have more resources and services to play with, and they can reach a wider impact with a reasonable workload thanks to never-ending networks. This compendium of conference papers provides a wide series of case studies and research topics that can be used as a reference for others, in a practical way.

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Référence électronique

Daniel Burgos, « Online learning as a key breakthrough on innovative education »Distances et médiations des savoirs [En ligne], 30 | 2020, mis en ligne le 25 juin 2020, consulté le 19 septembre 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Daniel Burgos

Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR)

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