Reflecting and learning: Using electronic mail as a Teaching/Learning tool

Year: 1995

Author: McGill, M, Jessup, Steven

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will report on the impact on 1st year preservice teachers of the introduction of part delivery of an compulsory education unit via electronic mail. At the start of an academic year all of the 220 people enrolled in the course were connected to the University's electronic mail system. Two questionnaires were developed to collect information and these were administered randomly at the beginning and end of the teaching semester. Other data were collected from follow up interviews.

The greatest benefit identified by the respondents for being connected to electronic mail was direct access to their tutor. The greatest problem identified by the students was getting on the system through the formal university procedures. Instead of using the designated courses provided by the University, students in the end preferred to use technical staff or other students to teach them. The data also show that younger students develop greater confidence in using the system than mature students and that male and female students use electronic mail to serve different purposes. Students who had relatively little or no experience on computers before the unit tended to avoid using electronic mail and computers as resourcefully as their more experienced peers. Interviews elicited information on how the process impacted on student learningStudents, in general, are able to use electronic mail as a tool to communicate and collect information. The challenge for teacher educators is to develop strategies whereby students and their tutors can gain from the benefits identified in the study.