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The experiences of e-learning for eight education professionals undertaking an online course in educational testing : an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Major UK studies reviewing thee-learning literature have concluded that "There is a general scarcity of studies of the learner experience" (Sharpe, Benfield, Lessner & De Cicco, 2005, p.3). This research study focuses on the experience of e-learning for eight education professionals who, over a six month period, wrote diary entries on a confidential online blog. A single open ended question and a prompt which aimed to increase awareness were used so that participants provided data about the experiences that were important to them. A phenomenological perspective was used to explore the participants' experience. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996). The diary accounts provided eight different personal experiences of alearning. Three common themes were identified of 'feeling socially isolated', 'difficult to keep going', 'online tutor absent'. Less common themes were also identified, 'positive social contact online', 'I must be careful that people don't see me as incompetent', 'course matches my learning style', 'course does not match my learning style' and 'writing the blog made a difference'. Course participants experienced the social presence of 'faceless strangers' and felt socially isolated. The 'social isolation' theme appeared to link to the theme 'difficult to keep going'. This suggests that providing experiences of social presence on an e-learning course is not enough and further research into the area of social connectedness would be valuable. Whilst all course participants made progress through the course many described their e-learning experience in intensely emotional terms. Adopting Mead's (1934) theory of perception it is suggested that the intense emotional experiences could be due to the unexpected loss of social cues making it difficult for course participants to construct an identity on the course. Educational Psychologists are recommended to consider using elearning to provide continuing professional development opportunities for education professionals.
Date January 2010
CreatorsTurner, Mark John
PublisherUniversity of East London
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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