We're working on some type of e-learning system in which users will be provided with tutorials and exercises. To title the tutorial materials, I was looking for an appropriate term/word but I could only come up with tutorial content. Despite its meaningfulness, I think there should be more appropriate choices. What are those?

  • Just "Tutorial" or, if you want to go colloq, "Tute". – JEL Mar 28 '16 at 7:13

For a long time now, the general terminology in Western education in English has been learning materials (alongside teaching materials). These materials can be print, audiovisual, online or anything else: the concept is medium-independent. Learning materials can be physical or intangible. The thinking indicates materials conducive to educational aims.

The thing that identifies or qualifies items as learning materials is their purposeful integration into an educational context (e.g. a course), for the use of students. Typically, such a context should involve structuring these materials for delivery (teaching being regarded as a symmetrical activity with learning), not simply making them available for people to discover. Such structuring will typically involve connection of learning materials with intended and defined learning outcomes or learning objectives (a concept discussed by many institutions, including Carnegie Mellon).

For example, the UNESCO paper for trainers ‘Teaching and Learning Materials: Analysis and Development in Basic Education’ routinely distinguishes between materials for teaching and for learning. Section 1.1 is concerned to make the distinction at the outset: ‘Definition of “Teaching” and “Learning” Materials’. That paper is undated, but a UNESCO report will have been up-to-date, and the most recent reference that it cites is from 1980.

The UK’s flagship distance education institution, The Open University, has been using the term ‘learning materials’ since its establishment in 1969. (The OU was originally envisaged as a University of the Air, emphasising the idea of conventional lectures delivered by broadcast, which was not ultimately the OU’s main operational model.) From the early days, according to the requirements of a given course, its learning materials would include printed texts that were physically delivered to students, perhaps audio recordings delivered on vinyl or cassette, and possibly TV broadcasts that (given contemporary domestic TV equipment) could not necessarily be recorded and ‘owned’ by a given student. With the move over the years towards IT-based delivery, software might also be included in a course as learning material. These days, the OU tends to include an interactive, online component in any new course. A purposeful online quiz is still regarded as learning material.

Recently, Subramaniam et al. have given the article ‘e-Content Development in Engineering Courses: Students Needs and Readiness’ (2013), for the International Journal of Business and Social Science. There, they give (p286) context and references for the same terminology in modern online educational delivery:

The widespread use of computers and the internet, gave a positive impact on the implementation of the [Problem-Based Learning] approach. This development got the attention of online learning materials development (Donnelly & Fitzmaurice 2005; McAlpine & Allen 2007).

There are very, very many examples of such usage, and if you wish I can provide more. For the moment, however, from a looong background in both face-to-face and distance education I can simply and professionally confirm the terminology.

|improve this answer|||||
  • @Eilia You are very welcome, of course. This is a potentially huge subject, with many tributaries, and my Answer kind of sketches the outlines. As far as I am able, I would be happy to modify my Answer to clarify or amplify any aspects that might help with the specific intent of your Question. – Captain Cranium Mar 28 '16 at 14:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.