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- PublicationDeveloping Digital Fluency in Higher Education: a study in the acquisition of digital capability by academics in Irish higher education settings(University College Dublin. School of Education, 2018)Higher education is facing the challenges of a growing and diverse student body and the potential of digital technologies for their learning. Digital fluency has become a major concept in technology enhanced learning (TEL) research, as digitally fluent educators can use TEL at the highest cognitive levels. This thesis contributes to our understanding of TEL, by examining the factors that influence the development of digital fluency among academic staff in institutions of higher education in Ireland and how such fluency can be facilitated and fostered both by the digitally fluent educators and by the academic institutions where they work. This question is examined through the theoretical lenses of innovation theories (Theory of Diffusion of Innovations and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology), Learning Design and Landscapes of Practice. The research takes an explanatory case study approach, drawing on a thematic analysis of eight semi-structured interviews with educators working in higher education in Ireland and of a national policy document, known as the Digital Roadmap (Phase 1). This analysis led to the identification of professional identity and institutional culture as themes to interpret the findings. The research found that enthusiasm, educational qualifications and prior experience of digital technologies were major influences in the development of digital fluency, which was an aspect of the participants’ professional identity. All were willing to help less digitally-proficient colleagues with advice and to present on formal courses. However, none wished to be seen as cheerleaders for technology. Those who developed an interest in TEL to improve their own teaching practice were keen to give informal demonstrations to colleagues but were less likely to be engaged in policy development than those who had developed their career around TEL. Both groups considered that accredited courses and informal learning were effective means of developing digital fluency. Educational technologists were considered to play a valuable role, particularly, when they went beyond guiding academics in institutional systems and enabled and encouraged them to explore other tools. This was considered to be a more sustainable approach as it helped the academics to develop their own fluency. Institutions can help ix with the sustainable development of digital fluency by providing technological and pedagogical support services and in some cases by offering awards. However, interview participants working in the university sector tended to be more sceptical of the value of awards and modest levels of funding than those working in institutes of technology. Institutional leadership can promote a culture of professional development which can be more effective where it draws on reflection on the participants own practice.
- PublicationReflecting On Models For Online Learning In Theory & Practice(All Ireland Society for Higher Education, 2010-07-29)This paper investigates the application of several well-known pedagogical models to the design and delivery of a series of blended workshops on online learning. The models were the five-stage e-moderating model for teaching and learning online, e-tivities, the e-learning ladder and communities of practice.The workshop series was aimed at academics and teaching librarians in a campus-based university. Its objective was to introduce them to some of the pedagogies and technologies in blended learning. Some of the participants were interested in delivering library and information skills classes online while others wanted to learn how to enhance the online elements of their existing courses.The tutor/moderator designed the workshops using the five-stage model for e-moderating as a framework. The model was presented to the participants as they progressed through the stages. Issues raised by the workshops included socialisation, technology, the role of the moderator, face-to-face classes, pace of progress through the stages and transfer to teaching practice. The class compared the five-stage model to the e-learning ladder and communities of practice to see how they addressed these issues.The paper looks back at the workshop and the practical and theoretical issues that it raised. It concludes with some issues for future research.
- PublicationPromoting Reflective Writing among Psychiatry Students(2011-07-01)
; ; ; ;This paper reports on a study on the use of online learning to teach reflective writing to psychiatry students. The students learnt about reflection and reflective writing using an interactive learning unit and a discussion forum. They posted responses to an article at three levels of reflection. Their learning was assessed using a reflective essay. The majority of students engaged with the discussion forum though some had difficulty in distinguishing the levels of reflection. The students rarely commented on each other’s posts. Modifications will be made for future use based on ongoing research. 40
- PublicationAligning Professional Identity with Institutional Culture: The Role of Educators’ Digital Fluency in Harnessing the Potential of Online and Technology Enhanced Learning(Dublin City University, 2020-05-13)
;Globally, higher education is facing the challenges of a growing and diverse student body and the potential of digital technologies to transform their learning. How digitally fluent educators work to harness technology enhanced learning (TEL) is a defining factor in this. This paper presents an analysis of the power and possibilities of digital fluency. It draws on innovation theory (relating to diffusion of innovations and to acceptance and use of technology), and also on understandings of institutional culture – conceptualised as communities and landscapes of professional practice. It is set against recent doctoral work, comprising a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with key, digitally fluent academics in Ireland and of a national (Ireland) policy document; the Digital Roadmap. This analysis led to some rather unexpected conclusions about educators’ professional identity and institutional cultures whose alignment (or lack thereof) can profoundly influence practice in online and technology-enhanced learning. Essentially, this research suggests that enthusiasm, educational qualifications, and prior experience of digital technologies are major influences in the development of digital fluency and related professional identity, but that there has been little consistency or predictability in how this happens. Major similarities emerged among participants around how fluency was pursued, but marked variations emerged between those whose career focused on TEL and those who mainly used TEL as part of their instructional practices. Similarly, the research identified differing practices at institutional level regarding the prioritising and fostering of this digital fluency and related professional identity. It also identified very mixed levels of understanding relating to institutional and national policy in the area. The paper presents a discussion of both individual and institutional aspects of identity development under headings relating to career focus; the interrelations of formal and informal learning; the institutional promotion of cultures of development; and reward systems and structures. In this way the paper foregrounds the importance of meaningful alignment of professional identity and institutional culture in harnessing the potential of online learning in higher education. By examining in particular the factors that influence the development of digital fluency among academics and the role of sustainable, supportive institutional cultures in this, it contributes to understandings of the ongoing transformation of online learning both globally and glocally, suggesting some measures for better facilitating and fostering that alignment. This paper aligns with the conference sub-themes of New Skills for Living and Working in New Times and Global Challenges and Glocal Solutions 133
- PublicationThe Relationship between Learning Style and Reflection in Student Blogs(UCL Institute of Education, University College London, 2014-12)Authentic blogging allows students to develop their own thoughts and exchange ideas with their peers without activities or assessment set by an educator (Downes, 2006). Research on learning processes in higher education has found that blogging can encourage and facilitate reflection (Hall & Davison, 2007; Xie, Ke & Sharma, 2008). Reflection is associated with higher- order learning outcomes and a deep approach to learning and as such is considered desirable in higher education (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008; Moon, 1999; Ramsden, 2003). Some students find reflection difficult (Xie et al, 2008) while others may not reflect in the absence of set tasks and assessment (Mackey, 2007). A preference for e-learning tools, such as blogs, and an aptitude for reflection may relate to a student's preferred learning style (Kolb, 1984; Kolb & Kolb, 2005; Saeed, Yang, & Sinnappan, 2009). This exploratory study investigates the extent to which undergraduate students are engaging in authentic blogging where tasks are not assigned by a lecturer, the extent to which their writing shows evidence of reflection under these conditions and the influence, if any, of their learning style on their blogging practice. The study participants were eleven final year students on an undergraduate Multimedia and Communications course in a non-traditional university-level institution in Ireland. Six of these students kept blogs over an eighteen-month period. An analysis of the ninety-two student blog posts and thirty-one comments in this study found that over one third were reflective, using discourse analysis based on Hatton and Smith (1995), while analysis of a questionnaire based on Kember and Leung (2000) found the student bloggers to be reflective learners. Most of the bloggers and all the most prolific bloggers showed a preference for Kolb's converging learning style. Albeit with a small sample, this study suggests that authentic blogs are effective tools for engaging undergraduates in reflection. It suggests that, despite misgivings about the lack of structure and scaffolding, lecturers can encourage their students to engage in authentic blogging as a means of developing reflection.
- PublicationRapid development of media-rich, interactive elearning(Formatex Research Center, 2006-11-25)This paper describes how the UCD Audio Visual Centre developed tools to help the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science to increase the quantity and improve the quality of its elearning materials. The Medical School wished to create pedagogically sound learning materials without converting the lecturers into elearning developers. In particular, there was an interest in making greater use of images and digital media, encouraging the students to reflect on their learning and in developing case studies on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Any tool had to be suitable for use by medical lecturers with limited IT experience. Having evaluated the available software, a decision was made to develop a tool in-house. For reasons of portability, the tool was to tag content in XML and be SCORM conformant.