Understanding the design and use of computer software in higher education in terms of academics' educational conceptions and beliefs

Year: 1997

Author: Bain, John, Lueckenhausen, Gillian, Mills, Colleen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Understanding the influence of information technology on student learning cannot be accomplished without reference to the epistemological and educational assumptions of the academic teachers who design and use computer-facilitated learning (CFL) programs.The focus of the paper will be the first stage of an ARC project (Study 1) in which thirty-six technology-based CAUT projects from a number of disciplines were examined. This study was based on archive material only (the initial application and final report for each project). Projects were sorted into self-forming categories in each of which the educational presumptions and practices were similar. Categories were then compared and refined so as to reveal their major sources of similarity and difference. The resulting framework is one in which the use educational technology in higher education can be understood in terms of several key qualitative "dimensions" which reflect academics' beliefs about the role of the expert teacher, the nature and ownership of knowledge, the control of learning and the nature of the learning process. This paper will describe these findings in detail and include reference to Study 2, currently underway, in which archive material is augmented by detailed interviews with academic staff and with comments from students.