This research investigates the potential for using a virtual learning environment and inparticular wikis as an alternative to face to face tutorials. From a pedagogicalperspective groupwork and problem based learning provides a teaching/learningenvironment which allows students to discuss and explore ideas whilst benefiting fromdirection and feedback from an e-tutor (Savin-Baden, 2000). This facilitates theopportunity for reflective learning with the goal that a student can develop a betterunderstanding of the material. However, there have been some difficulties observedwith face to face group work that may be alleviated, at least in part by using a virtuallearning environment.The paper explores the results of a blended model of group work. ‘Blended’ refers to ateaching model which includes both face to face sessions and online time via theinternet with the same cohort of students. A wiki1 was used to facilitate the students inexploring one topic in depth through uploading relevant resources and their comments.The wiki environment was observed by the e-tutor on a weekly basis to ensure that allstudents participated and there was an opportunity for the e-tutor to give feedback inclass that same week. The advantages and disadvantages of face to face and virtualenvironment discussions were evaluated by the students and teaching staff after a tenweek period. This paper presents the findings of this exercise from both theperspective of the tutor and the learners. It was a beneficial exercise for the studentsas it enabled easier, more frequent contact with group members which made thegathering of materials for the assignment quicker. It resulted in a repository, generatedby the students, of highly relevant materials stored online that could be accessed 24/7.It assisted the e-tutor in monitoring and evaluating individual contributions to the groupexercise on a continuous basis and allowed the e-tutor the opportunity to encourage non particpants to engage with the activity.
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2010|