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In online learning, student support systems are becoming more important as the basis for course design. In previous years, support had been considered as a supplement to resources given to pre-designed courses. The focus has now shifted since course design, content, and even assessment are formatively developed during the course through negotiation among the students and other agents such as the tutor and institution. Various forms of support are deployable. This paper looks at the design of e-learning courses in Asia to see what form of support is needed at the basic level involving choice of platform and use of technology. With increasing complexity in the e-learning technologies available, it is timely to take a re-look at the human involvement Ð at what students should be learning and how, and what the tutor should be teaching and how. And then we can identify which technologies serve these learning and teaching purposes. With the realization that online learning is better achieved through group interactivity than alone, there is a movement back to focusing on group learning. There are by definition only the two ways of learning in a group - cooperative learning and collaborative learning. Based on the established theory of transactional distance, e-learning technologies used in Asia were reviewed, to discover only the few elite centres of excellence deployed collaborative learning techniques, while the majority used cooperative techniques emphasizing dialogue to the exclusion of added structure. This report finds that the support needed in Asia should bring in more structure into course design to promote collaborative e-learning as an essential component in acquiring critical thinking skills at university.
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