|The paradigms of e-Education: An analysis of the communication structures in the research on information and communication technology integration in education in the years 2000–2001|
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The early invention of networked computing was parallel with development of some new ideas for educational use of computers. First corporate networks and networking of computer labs in schools created the possibility of new forms of group work. In the mid 80’s, this changed radically the previous instrumental paradigm by giving a new meaning for the computer: it was a medium of communication (CMC, computer mediated communication) and offered new avenues for the flow of information and processes. Again, outside schools the same technical inventions had simultaneous applications like corporate e-mail, which was used for correspondence and delivering support materials and technical help for customers. It did not take too long for teachers to enhance the classroom-based discussions beyond the walls of the schools to other schools and start correspondence with peer classes. E-mail had a capability to merge correspondence training and computer assisted learning, and created a starting point for the next paradigm based on a more general idea of communication and interaction. There are many practical ways in education of adopting this new meaning for computers. It is not only combining the meanings of correspondence teaching and computer assisted learning, but also media education in to the same concept of ICT mediated education (telematics in Europe).
Computers were indeed still tools but not only tools because computer mediated communication and networks introduced new processes which enhanced learning and teaching by connecting people and classrooms via communication lines. This paradigm can also be called the “C paradigm” because of the idea of using computers as communication media. It also created the new concept of ICT by combining the information processing and communication capabilities into one single innovation.
This paradigm is closely connected to social cognitive learning theories, contextual constructivism but still often connected to instrumental interests in research. Research trying to understand different people and cultures in education belong also to this paradigm, because the communication aspect involves necessarily another instance in the process of learning or delivery. The focus of this paradigm is on the process. In learning, this means the idea that the teacher will use learner collaboration and the communication network as a means for developing the student’s higher cognitive skills - indirectly. This shifting focus to the process of learning is often called a paradigm shift in education.