Thursday, October 22, 2009

1.1.1; 2.3: 'E-learning' and professional development

In an early view BJET article called "Conceptions of e-learning and professional development for e-learning held by tertiary educators in New Zealand", Stein, Shephard & Harris (2009) report on a phenomenological investigation into e-learning professional development. Respondents included people from the university, polytechnic, PTE and wananga sectors. The authors identified five 'categories' of e-learning based on the responses:
  • A: E-learning as 'tools, equipment, hardware and software'
  • B: E-learning as 'a means through which learning interaction is facilitated'
  • C: E-learning 'is seen as learning'
  • D: E-learning reduces distance (enhancing flexibility)
  • E: E-learning as 'collaborative enterprise' (involving students, teachers, support staff)
These categories are all related:
tools (Category A) support and facilitate the interaction (Category B) and the 'meeting places' that bring students, teachers, courses, institutions together, no matter where they are (Category D). Collaboration (Category E) at all levels supports the functoning of the whole system. The ultimate purpose of e-learning is to enhance learning (Category C) (p.11). 
Nicely put, a rich blend of perspectives into a useful and comprehensive statement! The research also sought perspectives on what e-leanring professional development is about.
  • A: 'Training to use technologies/tools/equipment'
  • B: 'Opening up possibilities for using technologies for teaching and learning'
  • C: 'A collaborative exercise that can take many forms' (including case studies, seminars, etc)
  • D: 'Relevance and purpose' (focussing on the value-add possible through e-learning)
The authors here suggest that C is the process of professional development, A and B the content, and D the purpose. The authors note that the findings do not provide a solution to the problems faced by professional developers, but the insight and richness of the categories is certainly appreciated.

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