To go from murkiness to clarity: How do course members perceive the teacher’s role in an online learning environment?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
The advent of the internet has changed the mode of delivery for many courses in the tertiary sector and courses are now offered in an online learning environment with variable success. There has been a range of studies concerning online learning however there is little research about the role of information technologies in promoting professional learning for teaching practitioners. Initially courses were posted online using the resources from a face-to-face course for the course members to download. Now the capabilities of the internet allow for a range of technologies to be used to enhance the learning in an online learning environment. Educational practitioners undertake professional development to either develop their skills and knowledge to improve student learning in their classrooms or for promotional reasons. Educational practitioners want to be inspired by their teachers when undertaking professional development. Some researchers point to the relationship between the teacher and the course members as being an important factor in the success of a course. As many professional development courses are being delivered in an online learning environment the course members never meet the teacher and the teacher needs to develop strategies to allow these relationships to develop. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of educational practitioners who are undertaking an online professional development course. It sought to understand the teaching practitioners’ expectations of the teacher in the online environment. A range of strategies was used to collect the data including questionnaires, data gained from the online learning environment, email correspondence and semi-structured interviews. The findings from this study identify the importance of the teacher designing an online learning environment to enhance learning, by having tasks and assignments related to the course members’ own practice, and by having a range of interactions that provide reflection opportunities to enhance thinking and learning. Other important findings included the importance of the teacher taking an active role in the interactions. .