Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Exploring pedagogical practice within an online learning community

Keywords: learning community, communities of practice, online, collaboration

Authors: Mrs Alison Mander (University of Southern Queensland, Qld, Australia); Mrs Petrea Redmond (University of Southern Queensland)

This paper will discuss the processes of engaging an online collaborative community of learners from three undergraduate cohorts in Canada and Australia. This community consisted of pre-service teachers and teacher practitioners. The aim of this community was to inquire into teaching and learning within secondary teaching contexts through different types of interactions such as student to student, student to teacher and student to curriculum.

The process of developing the online collaborative community will be discussed. This project provided students with a model of online collaboration to take with them into classrooms and the experience of participation inducted them into the realm of professional online communication as a part of their professional development.

During online discussion with practicing teachers the pre-service teachers explored issues of practice and pedagogical content knowledge. The findings illustrated that students interacting at a distance and online gained the advantage of multiple perspectives. They were able to bring their own questions and get the benefit of questions and responses of others. Implications of this project are discussed as they relate to improved outcomes for students and improved course design.

For teacher educators and professionals engaging in online professional learning and collaboration. This project demonstrates the advantages and difficulties of establishing online learning environments. It shows how students can gain higher order thinking and shared knowledge from experts and novices. It permits learning at a distance and between institutions. It enhances students' experiences of ICT use.

Date: Wednesday 23 January 2008, 12.00-12.30

Venue: Harris One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).