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E-learning as a touchstone for didactic theory, and conversely

Abstract : Didactics and ATD E-learning is a somewhat ill-defined concept, but it is a fruitful one, insofar as it allows or even compels one to reconsider one's own views about more traditional ways of teaching and learning. Despite the title of this paper, let's make it clear from the start that we shall not indulge in comparing meticulously two hypostatized entities, " traditional " versus, say, " electronic " teaching and learning. In what ways can e-learning be regarded as a touchstone will become evident in what follows. On the other hand, we shall stick to what has come to be known, in many countries, as the anthropological theory of the didactic (ATD), a theory upon which we shall draw heavily in the sequel. (To go beyond what we shall make explicit hereunder on ATD, we refer the interested reader to, for example, Chevallard, 2007.) ATD defines didactics as the (incipient) science whose object is the structure and dynamics of the more or less fuzzy set of conditions and constraints that determine the controlled diffusion of knowledge and skills in society. (In this respect, ATD appears as a development program for didactics: although there can be different routes to the same state, it proposes itself as a freeway to a full-fledged scientific field in education.) A word of comment is in order here on the concurrent use of the closely related notions of " condition " and " constraint " : both are to be construed as determining factors of diffusion (and of retention, seen as a limiting case of diffusion) of knowledge; but while conditions are supposed to be adjustable (they lay within the reach of the development team, a notion to which we shall return), constraints are limiting factors presumed to remain unchanged (and out of reach) under present circumstances, even though circumstances may vary in a distant future. Didactic Organizations and Didactic Systems The notion on which this presentation really centers is that of a didactic organization (DO), a notion that subsumes all the features of whatever learning or teaching scheme one might think of, be it fashionable or obsolete. A didactic organization cannot exist unless some set of
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Yves Chevallard, Caroline Ladage. E-learning as a touchstone for didactic theory, and conversely. JE-LKS:Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, Roma : Società italiana di e-learning, 2008. ⟨hal-01444794⟩

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