The Master’s program in e-Learning Pedagogy was created in 2005, as a response to a growing need of training and specialization in distance education, more specifically the need to establish a solid pedagogic foundation in e-learning for those working in teaching, training, instructional design, content creation or research in the field. At the same time, it sought to meet the challenges of a tight and effective integration of information and communication technologies in Education and of educating individuals for the knowledge society.
Since its inception, the Master’s has followed Universidade Aberta’s pedagogic model, based on the principles of flexibility, autonomy, interaction and collaboration. It has also focused heavily on innovating and exploring new paths, based both on the relentless technological advances (and the cultural and social changes associated to them) and on the growing research in the field.
The base virtual learning environment used is Moodle (the platform adopted by Universidade Aberta), combined with a host of social media tools and services. The program is taught completely online and resorts mainly to asynchronous communication.
The learning process in activity driven, with students performing significant, real life tasks and producing digital artifacts that they publish using in the process a variety of tools and services, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and videos, social bookmarking, Slideshare, Voicethread, Facebook, Twitter, or SecondLife, to name the most relevant. The students work both individually, in pairs or in small teams, according to the task or, sometimes, to their own will. Cooperation in the form of sharing (ideas, resources, reflections), peer feedback and peer review are strongly encouraged and occasionally designed in the task. The fact that students publish their work on the Internet allows for interaction and dialogue with a wider audience, which results in greater meaning and motivation in the learning process, as they become part of a “networked class” and move far beyond the virtual classroom walls of a private garden like Moodle.
Since 2008 [3rd edition] the Master’s program follows the Bologna process principles. The Master’s program is divided in two semesters with 4 curricular units each, for a total of 8 curricular units. Each unit lasts for about 20 weeks and the 4 CUs in each semester are taught simultaneously. The class has an average of 25 students. The study plan is as follows:
1st Semester (all four curricular units are taught simultaneously)
Learning and Technologies (Optional*) – 6 ECTS
Materials and Resources for e-Learning (Optional*) – 6 ECTS
Educational Communication – 8 ECTS
Education and Networked Society – 8 ECTS
Models of Distance Education – 8 ECTS
2nd Semester (all four curricular units are taught simultaneously)
Design and Assessment in e-Learning (Optional*) – 6 ECTS
Psychology and Internet (Optional*) – 6 ECTS
Virtual Learning Environments – 8 ECTS )
Pedagogical Processes in Elearning (8 ECTS )
Research Methodologies in e-Learning – 8 CTS)
* In each semester students choose one of the two optional curricular units.