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A constructivist approach to online learning: encouraging pedagogical re-engineering

Salter, Graeme (2004). A constructivist approach to online learning: encouraging pedagogical re-engineering. Doctor of Teaching Thesis, Northern Territory University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Salter, Graeme
Title A constructivist approach to online learning: encouraging pedagogical re-engineering
Institution Northern Territory University
Publication Date 2004
Thesis Type Doctor of Teaching
Abstract Teaching online is becoming more pervasive in higher education. This move towards online teaching gives staff an opportunity to reflect on the ways they currently teach and perhaps adopt improved techniques or ‘pedagogical re- engineering’. However, without appropriate staff development there is a danger that educationally ineffective or inadequate patterns of teaching may become habits embedded in online teaching practice.

Staff development is critical for both improving pedagogical practice and ensuring the successful adoption of technology in teaching. Given limited resources and time restrictions on staff it can be difficult to provide ‘traditional’ staff development activities. In order to reach more staff, particularly those who would not or could not make time for traditional workshops, a voluntary, web-based staff development module ‘Introduction to Online Teaching’ was developed following a constructivist perspective. The module and the sample modifications resulting from the research form the practical thesis. The study examines the degree of use, pattern of use and impact of this module. Using a case study approach, data was gathered using log files, Stages of Concern Questionnaire, Level of Use survey, interviews and transcripts of email and discussion groups.

The degree of use and patterns of use of the site varied depending on participant role, staff type, staff level and concerns profile. Usage patterns clearly exhibited the phenomenon of churn. That is, many users viewed the site very briefly and did not subsequently return. There was a correlation between the concerns of the developer and those of the high- level users. Lack of time was cited as the major barrier to use. Lack of time is also a factor involved in limiting development.

The study concludes with a case for an expanded multi-theoretical and multidisciplinary approach, suggestions for improvements and a modified model for developing online staff development.
Additional Notes Please note that web-base staff development module 'Introduction to Online Teaching' is available in CD-ROM only.

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