Towards an Understanding of Existing e-Learning for University Science Education in Taiwan
Wang, S.-C. (2008). Towards an Understanding of Existing e-Learning for University Science Education in Taiwan (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2599
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2599
E-learning is a fast growing trend worldwide but it is still not universally accepted and practice does not always reach national government and tertiary institution expectations, especially in Taiwan. While issues around the effective implementation of e-learning to produce high quality education are being raised internationally, very little research has been undertaken in Taiwanese tertiary institutions, particularly for science education. No research was found that addressed the various perspectives of the stakeholders involved in blended courses which had both face-to-face and online learning components. The link between e-learning practice and views of learning had also received little attention. This study investigated how e-learning practice was perceived and experienced at a national research-based university in Taiwan. The main focus was to identify the challenges, benefits and related success factors of e-learning practice as part of blended learning courses from the perspectives of university administrators, support people, instructors and students. An interpretative methodology using questionnaires and interviews was employed to generate data from these participant groups. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. This study provides empirical evidence that e-learning practice is perceived and experienced as a technology-mediated and collaborative practice that is socially and culturally situated. The study supports the view that e-learning practice as a whole is a socio-cultural system, although when looking at instructor and student preferences for instructional design and learning processes there is a fit with both behaviorist and constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. However, instructors and students need to be active and self-managed to find e-learning efficient and effective. Students, instructors, support people and administrators held very similar perceptions of the benefits of and influences on lecturer and student use of e-learning as a component of blended learning. Based on the findings, an explanatory model for the influences on e-learning practice as part of blended learning in a Taiwan university context was developed. E-learning teaching and learning approaches are initiated by and created within a multi-layered context. At the first level, e-learning practice is accomplished via instructor and student engagement in day to day teaching and learning and as an educational reform it cannot separated from the ICT technologies which mediate their interaction. Put another way, because instructor and student participation in e-learning as part of blended learning is voluntary students are included with instructors and the technology in the core enactment zone for practice. At the next level this three-way instructor-student-technology interaction is affected by and nested within the university instructor professional community and student peer community, which in turn is shaped by and nested in university-wide policies and practices. These three levels are nested in and influenced by the national policy context, external professionals, private enterprise and the public at large. The model and associated suggestions presented in this study are expected to assist governments and universities to play a more constructive role in the development and implementation of e-learning education to improve the quality of courses for students and instructors. The hope is that the findings will contribute to enhanced teaching and learning supported by better administrator decision-making regarding institutional policies and practices including investment in learning technologies and support services for e-learning.
The University of Waikato
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