The impact of collaborative technology-enhanced learning on concepts of teaching (or Developing eCompetent professionals)
thesisposted on 20.09.2011, 14:50 by Tony John Churchill
Much has been written about the way in which e-learning has changed learning in higher education without transforming it to meet the changing needs and expectations of stakeholders in the sector. The beliefs and practices of teachers in the sector have remained largely unchanged despite the widespread adoption of e-learning tools. This study used a phenomenographic approach to identify the conceptual frameworks of practitioners. Among the indicators used to define these frameworks were practitioners’ levels of engagement with e-learning tools and the broader concept of technology-enhanced learning. The study identified limited evidence of the transformation of beliefs and practices in the sector to a more student-centred paradigm, despite the adoption of the language associated with such a change by the majority of practitioners interviewed. It showed how many e-learning initiatives had led to the internalization of such change with the adoption of exemplars and best practice. Examples of externalization (where exemplars were adapted to context and the modifications passed to others) were much more limited. Cases were identified where practitioners had used e-learning as a means of reinforcing the existing, teacher-centred paradigm. The majority of practitioners, however, were identified as being in a ‘transitionary’ state, adopting the language and some of the practices of a ‘transformed’ state. This study, therefore, considered factors influencing the adoption of a more student-centred paradigm through the use of e-learning. Using Activity Theory, the barriers to such change were explained and lessons for future approaches to professional development derived. Through an exploration of collaborative technology-enhanced learning initiatives, the nature of learning communities that should be at the heart of such transformation were identified. This study should, therefore, be of value to practitioners wishing to innovate, those who design and deliver the professional development programmes to support them and those managing such change in HE.