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How to create an online learning environment where the teacher acts as a facilitator and the students engage in peer learning?

Dorit Maor
Murdoch University

Veronica Hendriks
Curtin University of Technology

With the increased use of e-learning and with easier access to the Internet there is a growing concern with the quality of teaching that we as educators provide our students in higher education. E-learning provides a challenge to make learning an interactive and collaborative experience that is guided by a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning.

This paper will discuss the processes of interactions among learners in higher education based on a specific online unit that was designed for science and mathematics teachers who were geographically and socially isolated. Underpinning the design of this unit was the creation of a networked community of learners which would enable the learners to engage with one another in peer learning and reflective thinking. In order to investigate the extent to which peer learning and reflective thinking occurred, qualitative data from students' transcripts, end of semester evaluations and students reflective stories were analysed.

Analysis suggests that participants demonstrated a strong sense of belonging to this community, thus enabling them to share their experiential knowledge. Peer learning became a significant feature of the community, however, we believe that sometimes the opportunity for critical reflection was missed. As a result, students' interaction mainly occurred at the level of sharing and comparing information rather than negotiating meaning for the purpose of co-constructing knowledge.

Based on this experience we faced with the following dilemmas:

This should lead to further general discussion on:
Contact person: Dorit Maor, Lecturer, Education, Murdoch University. dmaor@murdoch.edu.au

Presentation format: Dilemmas in teaching or teaching/learning research

Please cite as: Maor, D. and Hendriks, V. (2002). How to create an online learning environment where the teacher acts as a facilitator and the students engage in peer learning? In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/maor-abs.html


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