Practising reflection and reflecting on practice: an action research approach to integrating e-learning in professional development programmes

This source preferred by Maggie Hutchings

Authors: Byles, L. and Hutchings, M.

Start date: 19 November 2001

Publisher: Staff and Educational Development Association

Learning technologies are promoted as a means of supporting student learning, hence their inclusion in a variety of forms in professional development programmes for teachers in higher education. In designing a curriculum to include online learning technologies, the challenge for the educational developer is to establish the terms of engagement for participants. To what extent should the learning outcomes reflect critical theory compared to practical skills development? How does this translate into learning activities which need to focus on both the pedagogic and technical?

The key aims of the session are to investigate how practicing teachers’ conceptions and models of learning will influence their perceptions and approaches to the use of learning technologies in a programme of professional development. The paper examines the learning experiences of participants on a Masters in Professional Development Programme (Post Compulsory Education), who engage with an online learning environment within the context of a programme, which is largely delivered face-to-face. An action research approach has been adopted to enable the educational developers to ground their practice within a strategy, which examines the staff experiences by means of focus group interviews, questionnaires, and content analysis of messages.

The session seeks to explore practical ways in which the educational developer can integrate experiential learning approaches to e-learning within a theoretical-critical curriculum. Units on the programme encourage reflective practice (Schon 1983) and this is seen as a key way of integrating and legitimising the use of learning technologies within the course. Engaging with learning technologies can persuade the teacher as reflective practitioner to revisit and reconsider their approaches to, and perspectives on, the fundamentals of learning and teaching. The session is intended to be participative and will include a series of discussion questions for participants.

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