Overview and thanks – ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts (Second Edition)’

In my first blog posts of 2019, back in March, I was sharing news of the book ‘Conceptualising the Digital University: The intersection of policy, pedagogy and practice’ which myself and my good friends and colleagues Bill Johnston and Sheila MacNeill had just had published. Our book was a labour of love, informed by several years of research, dialogue, reflection and practice before we began the book itself.

During the last year I have also been very fortunate to be involved in co-authoring a second book with another good friend and colleague, Professor Frank Rennie of Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands. Our book Digital Learning: The Key Concepts (Second Edition) was published by Routledge in the second half of this year, and is a revised and extensively updated edition of ‘Elearning: The Key Concepts‘ (2006) which Frank co-authored with the renowned educationalist Robin Mason.

For myself, in important personal ways, ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts’ was a book that was also several years in the making – even if I didn’t realise it until the prospect of authoring the second edition was in front of us. The reason for this is that long before I joined the University of the Highlands and Islands, and came to know and work closely with Frank, I knew and made extensive use of the original edition of the book both for my own personal purposes and also in co-designing and then leading an online Masters programme in blended and online education. The programme, which was (and still is) undertaken by teachers, lecturers, learning technologists and other educational specialists and professionals from around the world, set out to provide a dual grounding in relevant concepts and ideas relating to technology-enhanced learning hand-in-hand with design-based practice applied and evaluated within professional contexts. To this end ‘Elearning: The Key Concepts’, authored by Frank and Robin as an extensive A to Z of established and emerging ideas, approaches, technologies and theories, was an invaluable text for those studying on the programme…as well as those teaching on it!

As the second edition, ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts’ follows in a similar vein albeit updated (as you might expect in what is still a fast evolving field) to address developments in practice, thinking and technology that have taken place since the original 2006 text.

Image of cover for the book 'Digital Learning: The Key Concepts'

Cover for ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts (Second Edition)’

Back in 2006, which was around about the time we started to develop the programme it helped to influence, I could not have known or imagined that over a decade later Frank would be extending the invitation to myself to co-author the second edition with him. That was and is an honour in itself, but made more so by the privilege to help build upon the original work undertaken by Frank and Robin (with Robin and her research also being very formative for myself, especially when undertaking my PhD on the topic of networked learning and technology affordances back in the 2000’s).

I’m very thankful to Frank for the opportunity to author the second edition with him, and for his patience when outside challenges delayed my own contributions at key points. Collectively, we’re also very thankful for the support of the team at Routledge (including our commissioning editor Sarah Tuckwell) and knowledgeable colleagues who were were kind enough to review the text and offer both suggestions and reviews for the book. This includes the aforementioned Sheila MacNeill, Antony CoombsΒ at the University of Sussex, and Alex Walker at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Below you can find the official synopsis of the book, and the thoughts of our aforementioned colleagues who reviewed the book in advance.

Synopsis for ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts’

The new edition of Digital Learning: The Key Concepts is the perfect reference for anyone seeking to navigate the myriad of named concepts, approaches, issues and technologies associated with digital learning.Key terms are explained succinctly, making this book ideal to dip into for a quick answer, or to read from cover-to-cover, in order to gain a mastery of how digital concepts fit within the world of education. Fully updated to include important developments in digital practice and technology in education over the last ten years, this book takes the reader from A to Z through a range of relevant topics including:

  • Course design
  • Digital scholarship
  • Learning design
  • Open education
  • Personal learning environments
  • Social media and social networking

Ideal as an introductory guide, or as a reference book for ongoing referral, this quick-to-use and comprehensive guide is fully crossreferenced and complete with suggestions for further reading and exploration, making it an essential resource for anyone looking to extend their understanding of digital practices, techniques and pedagogic concepts.

Recommendations for ‘Digital Learning: The Key Concepts’

“Digital Learning: The Key Concepts provides a valuable reference for education professionals, particularly early-career Learning Technologists, academics and teachers getting to grips with the intersection between digital technology and education. The clear explanations give a rapid orientation within the ideas and terminology of this important aspect of the contemporary learning landscape.”

Antony Coombs, Learning Technologies Manager (Technology Enhanced Learning), University of Sussex, UK

“Navigating the constantly evolving digital learning landscape is a perennial challenge for staff, students and indeed anyone involved in any type of learning activity. Digital technologies are providing increasingly diverse ways of permeating the boundaries between formal and informal learning. However, it is essential that everyone involved in learning and teaching has a common understanding of the possibilities and constraints of technology that is based on scholarly research and current effective practice. This updated collection of terms provides an essential compass for key learning theories, concepts and resources for navigating the current digital learning landscape.”

Sheila MacNeill, Independent HE Consultant, Chair of ALT (Association for Learning Technology)

“As someone working in education who is also studying digital learning as part of a postgraduate qualification, this book is invaluable as a quick reference guide for key concepts in digital learning and also key concepts relevant to wider learning and teaching contexts. The definitions have enough information to provide clarification on the concepts covered, but are short enough that I can scan for what I am looking for. The concepts are presented alphabetically, so I can quickly find the definitions of the ideas, issues and technologies I am unfamiliar with. I would recommend that anyone studying or involved in digital education has Digital Learning: The Key Concepts by their side as a reference guide.”

Alex Walker, Professional Development and Recognition Lead, University of the Highlands and Islands, UK

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