Tallent-Runnels, M. et al. (2006) Review of Educational Research, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 93-135

Abstract: This literature review summarizes research on online teaching and learning. It is organized into four topics: course environment, learners’ outcomes, learners’ characteristics, and institutional and administrative factors. The authors found little consistency of terminology, discovered some conclusive guidelines, and identified developing lines of inquiry. The conclusions overall suggest that most of the studies reviewed were descriptive and exploratory, that most online students are nontraditional and Anglo American, and that few universities have written policies, guidelines, or technical support for faculty members or students. Asynchronous communication seemed to facilitate in-depth communication (but not more than in traditional classes), students liked to move at their own pace, learning outcomes appeared to be the same as in traditional courses, and students with prior training in computers were more satisfied with online courses. Continued research is needed to inform learner outcomes, learner characteristics, course environment, and institutional factors related to delivery system variables in order to test learning theories and teaching models inherent in course design.

Comment: A rather old paper. Only the abstract is available online, which is one reason it has taken me so long to come across it. Nothing surprising to those familiar with research on distance education, but important, nevertheless. It seems that many ‘traditional’ instructors approaching e-learning haven’t done their homework, in terms of looking at the literature on online distance learning. However, this is not a surprise, either.

For my own review of research in e-learning, click here

Thanks to Dewey at brainify.com for drawing this to my attention.


  1. > It seems that many ‘traditional’ instructors approaching e-learning haven’t done their homework, in terms of looking at the literature on online distance learning.

    It would be a lot easier if it were online (and to be honest, after a day of chasing references, I am frustrated with demands that we look at the ‘literature’ – stuff written in offline journals by people who have likely never been online).

  2. As much as I agree with you observations about distance learning and that of Stephen, it seems to me that far too many lecturers in FE and HE have not realised that teaching and learning practices have changed.

    I recently read a blog arguing that teaching notes on line should match the presentations in the lecture room, ie replicating old didactic styles. This is not my understanding of e-learning. E-L as opposed to ‘distance learning’ can occur in activities on screen where students may be sat at the next workstation or just across the room. The interactions, synchronous or asynchronous are documented and tracked in an e-learning environment. Feedback can be almost instantaneous from both peers and mentors in a way that has never happened before.

    Perhaps what we need to state is that new technologies do not necessarily ensure new approaches to learning. It is time that many of our ‘old-school’ professors went back to school themselves! Perhaps we have put the cart before the horse. Institutions need to understand modern T&L practices and then adopt the technologies that will best serve their needs.


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