March 24, 2017

The Eight Classic e-Learning publications?

In another post I reported on a list of eight ‘classic’ publications on distance education, chosen by Shanghai TV University.

This has prompted me to think about what might be eight ‘classic’ publications on e-learning, acknowledging that there is some overlap between at least online distance eduication and e-learning. However, I still think e-learning is a much broader concept than online distance education.

Another difference is that for e-learning, classic publications are as likely to be found in blogs as in printed texts. Furthermore, the Internet allows us to open the process to everyone. So I’m going to ask all my readers to start compiling a list of the best publications they know on e-learning – please submit them as comments to this post. I’ll keep the list open until May 7, then we’ll see which are the most popular.

In the meantime, here’s my ‘provisional’ list (I’ll probably think of others later) in date order of publication:

Hiltz, R. and Turoff, M. (1978) The Network Nation Cambridge MA: MIT Press. 1978? 1978?! I hear you say. Yes, Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff were experimenting with networked computer communication for teaching at New Jersey Institute of Technology in the 1970s. And it’s still a good read.

Mason. R. and Kaye, A. (1989) Mindweave: Communication, Computers and Distance Education Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press This book features papers from some of the pioneers of online learning.

Harasim, L., Hiltz, S., Teles, L. and Turoff, M. (1995) Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. This was one of the first books to discuss in a systematic way the construction of knowledge through online discussion.

Jonassen, D., Davidson, M., Collins, M., Campbell, J. and Haag, B. (1995) ‘Constructivism and Computer-mediated Communication in Distance Education’, American Journal of Distance Education, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp 7-26. A major theoretical framework supporting online teaching.

Salmon, G. (2000) E-moderating London/New York: Routledge

Paloff, R. and Pratt, K. (2001) Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

JISC  (2004) Effective Practice with e-Learning Bristol, U.K.: Joint Information Systems Committee. JISC in the U.K. provides a continuous stream of excellent, pragmatic publications on e-learning.

Stephen’s Web: Stephen Downes’ always interesting and provocative blog. Of his publications I would choose: Downes, S. (2005) ‘E-learning 2.0’ eLearn Magazine October 15

Siemens, G. (2004)  ‘Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age’ eLearnSpace  I don’t think this is a learning theory but an epistemological belief, but it would be required reading if I was teaching a course on e-learning.

Oops, that’s more than eight, but hey, it is my blog. Now let’s hear from you: what would you choose?


  1. Reigheluth, C. and Carr-Chellman, A. (2009) Instructional-Design Theories and Models. Building a Common Knowledge Base. Volume III. New York and London: Routledge.

    Even if it’s 2009, I believe it deserves being included as a classic.

  2. Why not Marc J. Rosenberg’s “e-Learning” (2001) and “Beyond E-Learning” (2006)?

  3. Every book on your list is in my book shelf. But this is the one that gets pulled off most often:

    Collison, G., Elbaum, B., Haavind, S., Tinker, R. (2000) Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators Madison, WI: Atwood

  4. In my view, one of the classic texts has to be Don Morrison’s “E-Learning Strategies.” I also agree with your contributor about including Marc J Rosenberg’s texts.

  5. Are your contributions always this great?


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