Criteria in e-learning

Dream Team (a learning circle in International teacher education 2013-12014 in Teacher Education College in Jyväskylä) is an international group of students studying to achieve the qualification of a vocational teacher.

Riikka Holopainen
International Group 13 – 14
Teacher Education College
JAMK University of Applied Sciences

In these breaking times, when our students are born to live digital but most of their teachers are not there is a real demand for qualified e-courses. The advances of digital teaching are inevitable. The online course gives students the possibility to study without barriers between time and space which gives savings both for the student (and the teacher) in travelling and the premises. Further, the power of mass teaching brings internal savings for the teaching offering organization in a long run (Kurilovas & Dagiene 2009). More graduated by fewer teachers can be reached. The distant learning gives one different kind way to study, a new possibility for those learning types who don’t feel the traditional way of learning suitable for them e.g. they can repeat the videos, notes or instructions. (Chao & Chen 2013).

However, it is not easy to produce a good e-course and even more challenging is to change a face-to-face taught course into the virtual presentation. The tools and materials that are applied in the traditional teaching session are many times not as suitable for use in the internet. Additionally, as one online course can take thousands of students the quality of the course is more important than ever. Every teacher wants to provide the best possible material but the decision about how and which tool is major for the result. To help this, there is a wide variety of different criteria but the most difficult part is to find and choose the best for the specific course. (Blass & Davis 203; Shee & Wang 2008).

As being a complex world of learning the web based e-learning should be produced and evaluated the most effectively. There are several different diversity e-learning criteria models but they are applied separate and the good general picture is needed. Along the criteria criticism of Kurilovas and Dagiene (2009) the biggest limits for the online learning evaluation are that they don’t consider learning objective and life cycle stages or they examine technical aspects of the tool before applied them into the course. Blass and Davis (2003) in their study in United Kingdom on e-learning criteria development figured the most important factors for the e-learning tool or methods. With these principles, they wanted to develop principles which should be adaptable to the different teacher or different student groups.  Their main principles are appropriateness, design, interaction and evaluation. They found that the most important part of these is the questions concerning the appropriateness of the tool or course. This must be proper and passed otherwise thee learning proposal is not worth applying. The latter three criteria are more flexible and can be adapted by provider, student or the technology.

Further, Chao and Chen (2009) designed criteria for effective e-learning. In Taiwan, they developed the rating and weighting system to evaluate the web learning to intensify the process, because usually the time, manpower and the financial support are limited for the e-learning. In their criteria, the analytic hierarchy process model is applied and five key factors were stated. Those are, the e-learning material, the quality of the web learning platform, the synchronous learning meaning interaction between the organization or the student and the teacher, learning record assistant for assessing and monitoring the studying, and eventually, the self-learning by using material and tools with flexible time and amount. In grading these five dimensions by the empirical way, questionnaire for the students, Chao and Cheng reveal in their results that the question list is almost in the importance order of the criteria. Only, the third and the fourth factor changed places showing that the students find the learning record more important that the synchronous learning. The results demonstrate us that the material of web-based learning and the platform which presents the material are essential for the learning. Opposite, the self-learning feature was found the least important factor in e-learning.

As noticed before, many different e-learning criteria have been in the use worldwide. Still, in these days they are applied separate and a good general picture is needed. Along criteria criticism, the biggest limit for the e-learning material or tool criteria is that many of those models are too modest and more complex criteria are needed. For instance, often the existing models don’t notice different life cycle stages or the adaptation capabilities. The authors propose the framework for both technical quality assessments and flexibility to be concerned. Beside these main streams of the online criteria, the internationalization should be one natural part of the criteria and which is very often miss from the models.(Kurilovas & Dagiene 2009).

As the concluding study, could be used the Shee’s and Wang’s paper (2008) where they compile the most important criteria areas into four dimensions: the learners interface, the learning community, the system content and the personalization. These four dimensions we can find all of the other criteria models mentioned in this article, more or less. The learners interface is handled in other models as an e-learning platform to assess if it is easy to use or understand. The second dimension, learning community included all the different directional discussion and interaction between the students, educator or organization, also the commenting and assessing part of the course. This dimension evaluated to ease the access or exchanging learning with the others or with the teacher. Further, the system content takes with all the content and material shared by ranking their sufficiency and the last dimension, the personalization called e.g. self-learning in other models evaluates the capacity of the controlling learning process or performance in flexible time and place. These four main dimensions could be a good starting point for the more accurate criteria for e-learning. However, the question is, how generally applied the e-learning methods and tools are and weather the methods and tools are connectable into the same criteria.


Riikka Holopainen
University teacher, M.Sc. (econ.), Accounting and Finance
University of Eastern Finland, Business School



Blass, E. and Davis, A. 2003. Building on solid foundations: establishing criteria for e-learning development. Ashridge Business School UK.

Chao, R. J. & Chen, Y. H. 2009. Evaluation of the criteria and effectiveness of distance e-learning with consistent fuzzy preference relations. Expert Systems with Applications 36, 10657–10662.

Kurilovas, E, and Dagiene, V. 2009. Learning Objects and Virtual Learning Environments Technical Evaluation Criteria.  Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 7 (2),127 – 136. available online at

Shee, D. Y. & Wang, Y. s. 2006. Multi-criteria evaluation of the web-based e-learning system: A methodology based on learner satisfaction and its applications. Computers & Education 50, 894–905.