The quality of an online university degree is paramount to the student, the reputation of the university and most importantly, the profession that will be entered. At the School of Education within Curtin University, we aim to ensure that students within rural and remote areas are provided with high quality degrees equal to their city counterparts who access face-to-face classes on campus. In 2010, the School of Education moved to flexible delivery of a fully online Bachelor of Education degree for their rural students. In previous years, the degree had been delivered in physical locations around the state. Although this served the purpose for the time, it restricted the degree to only those rural students who were able to access the physical campus. The new model in 2010 allows access for students in any rural area who have a computer and an internet connection, regardless of their geographical location. As a result enrolments have seen a positive increase in new students. Academic staff had previously used an asynchronous environment to deliver learning modules housed within a learning management system (LMS). To enhance the learning environment and to provide high quality learning experiences to students learning at a distance, the adoption of synchronous software was introduced. This software is a real-time virtual classroom environment that allows for communication through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and videoconferencing, along with a large number of collaboration tools to engage learners. This research paper reports on the professional development of academic staff to integrate a live e-learning solution into their current LMS environment. It involved professional development, including technical orientation for teaching staff and course participants simultaneously. Further, pedagogical innovations were offered to engage the students in a collaborative learning environment. Data were collected from academic staff through semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The findings discuss the perceived value of the technology, problems encountered and solutions sought. In addition, the pedagogical approaches used by academic staff to create an effective online teacher presence will be discussed.
|Australian and International Journal of Rural Education
|Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia
|26th Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia 2010
|4/03/10 → 4/03/10