Scoping Study to Investigate Online Learning Environments to Facilitate Evidence Sharing by Literacy and Numeracy Practitioners




НазваниеScoping Study to Investigate Online Learning Environments to Facilitate Evidence Sharing by Literacy and Numeracy Practitioners
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Final Report




Scoping Study to Investigate Online Learning Environments to Facilitate Evidence Sharing by Literacy and Numeracy Practitioners

(LNET project)




Michele Lonsdale, Alana Deery, Gerry White and Carol Skyring




Australian Council for Educational Research


July 2009

Acknowledgements



Meredith Bramich and Kelly Hind at ACER provided valuable project support. The authors also acknowledge the willingness of participants to take part in the various consultations. This was greatly appreciated.


Table of Contents





Final Report 1

Acknowledgements 2

Table of Contents 3

Executive Summary 4

Introduction 6

Methodology 8

Part One Data collection and findings 12

1. Literature Review 12

2. Review of online learning environments 40

3. Consultations with professional associations 44

4. Consultations with experts in the field 53

5. Interviews with education authorities 55

6. Focus group discussions 61

7. Online survey 69

Part Two The Findings 80

Recommendations 96

Recommendation One 96

Recommendation Two 100

Recommendation Three 100

References 103

Appendix 2: Review of four gateways 109

Appendix 3: Professional and subject Organisations 124

Appendix 4: ICT experts contacted by ACER 126

Appendix 5: Videoconference participants 128

129

Appendix 6: Online survey questions 130



Executive Summary




The purpose of the Scoping Study to Investigate Online Learning Environments to Facilitate Evidence Sharing by Literacy and Numeracy Practitioners (LNET) study was to identify effective online interfaces or learning environments that provide education stakeholders with opportunities to share examples of good practice, ideas and quality resources.

A review of the literature was undertaken and consultations carried out with a wide range of education stakeholders via focus groups, telephone interviews, videoconference and online survey. Those consulted included ICT experts, representatives of professional education associations, teachers, and personnel from state and territory Independent, Catholic and government jurisdictions.

Two main areas of investigation were online databases, with a particular focus on exemplary international and national models, and social networking services, with a particular focus on online communities. Two other types of online interfaces and learning environments were examined briefly: learning management and conferencing systems.

The findings of the literature search are consistent with the findings from the consultations, review of gateways, research on online communities, and online survey results. The literature shows a growing array of online spaces and tools that are potentially available for use by educators, although take-up for professional learning purposes among classroom teachers remains well behind that of leading educators who are working daily with these new technologies to enhance their professional learning.

The review of online gateways/portals showed a substantial number of repositories that offer teachers access to quality assured resources, most with some interactivity, and a smaller number of databases that offer access to a wider range of online tools and services. The best of these online interfaces provide opportunities for professional learning to occur among communities of educators. These can be interest-based, topic-based or created around groups of educators in particular education sectors. While there are few longitudinal studies of online communities, the research shows that highly effective online communities generally have a shared purpose and need, a strong sense of trust and support, are voluntary rather than mandated, and have a skilled moderator.

The research shows that membership of an online community is potentially a rich source of professional learning for educators. The capacity of these communities to provide teachers with just-in-time learning, professional communication and support, opportunities to reflect on their own learning and practice, and access to a diverse and potentially rich pool of expertise, makes online communities an invaluable resource.

The main users of these resources are teachers, students, education authorities, librarians, academics and researchers. The main reasons for use by teachers are to find resources and information, share information, participate in discussion, access online publications and gain updated industry news.

The main obstacles to usage continue to be lack of time and lack of confidence among teachers. School leadership that does not model a strong commitment to ICT and professional learning was also raised as an issue. Another reason identified in the literature and supported by anecdotal evidence through the consultations is that not all teachers are willing to share resources. In part this is due to a sense of being exposed, opening up practices and strategies that could be the subject of peer criticism. To share resources requires a level of trust that the end user will be respectful of the material that has been developed. For some education authorities, there are issues to do with copyright, licensing and intellectual property that mean access to online resources are restricted.

The consultations and research indicate the following conditions as being potentially effective strategies for improving teacher use of online services and tools:

  • Teachers are given access to reliable networked computers, appropriate resources and readily available technical support.

  • Teachers are supported to gain an appropriate level of skills that will enable effective use of the various online services and tools. This includes the ability to locate in a timely manner portals providing links to high quality resources.

  • Schools, organisations and systems value the use of teachers’ time to improve professional learning via the online services and tools.

  • There is high quality facilitation, leadership or moderation of online communities, particularly in the early stages when the online environment is being set up.

  • Participants feel their professional reputation is enhanced through engagement in online communities and access to online repositories.

  • There are clear goals and a shared sense of purpose for the online community.

  • Trust is established and participants are willing to be honest and open in their contributions. Participants feel a strong connection with the online community.

  • Participants recognise that knowledge is a public good, and that it belongs to the whole community of educators rather than individuals or particular schools.


The report concludes with three key recommendations:

  • That a national, integrated, online interface for literacy and numeracy educators is developed. This would be comprehensive in the range of services and tools offered to support an evidence base and the professional learning of literacy and numeracy practitioners; draw on the best features of existing national and international services; and be multi-modal, particularly in the range of options available for teachers to engage in professional learning, including support for face-to-face and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

  • That a strategy is developed to provide routine, structured time for teachers to explore online tools and services, and confidently engage in online professional learning. This would be written into the allocated time of teachers.

  • That a national quantitative survey of practitioners be conducted to identify ICT awareness and skill capabilities among stratified sub-groups of practitioners.



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