The term e-learning embraces the use of a variety of electronic delivery media to facilitate and enhance learning. Examples of various delivery media are online (web-supported), stand-alone multimedia, interactive television, virtual classrooms, video conferencing, etc. This paper focuses on web-supported learning (WSL), as a subset of e-learning. The term web-supported learning is preferred over web-based learning (WBL) or online learning, since the learning model under consideration is a blended one, including varying components of contact time and electronic learning opportunities.
Although the domains of quality assurance in higher education and web-supported learning are extremely topical, they seldom overlap (Reid, 2003). The purpose of this study was to investigate factors to promote excellence in web-supported learning (WSL) in higher education institutions. The outcome is a taxonomy of critical success factors, as well as a mapping of the taxonomy onto a cognitive model in the field of Information Science.
In the field of Information Science, Ingwersen’s (1996) cognitive model of information retrieval (IR) interaction is well known. It represents the way that individual users may interact with an interface in order to assimilate and interpret sources of information within their social and organisational environments. The taxonomy of critical success factors was mapped onto Ingwersen’s model, in order to provide a cognitive and visual interpretation of the categories in the taxonomy. This offers a unique application of information science theory to the field of web-supported learning.