Reflections on e-learning from a communication perspective.


  • Gary Mersham The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand


This article uses a dialogical model of communication to reflect on communication in e-learning. It is argued that teaching and learning is a singular, dialogical communicative process leading to a shared negotiation of meaning congruent with the collaborative-constructivist perspective. However, misunderstanding and miscommunication are common and less detectable in an online environment, raising questions about the limitations of communication in the context of e-learning.
The author examines the importance of communication contexts in e-learning, probing issues of interpersonal and group contexts in the matrix of possible interactions as well as those of distance, place, and proximity. The author also speculates on the limits of encoding and decoding and exchange of meaning in the e-learning transactional process, and the affordances and disaffordances of mediated communication.

Author Biography

Gary Mersham, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Gary Mersham has 20 years as a communication professor in various contact universities on three
continents. He became interested in how communication takes place in e-learning when he joined The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, where he is currently Associate Professor of Communication in the Centre for Social Sciences.