Developing course team approaches to task design
The research project is a qualitative investigation of the task design process on three courses where distance e-learning is a key component.
The rationale behind the project was to investigate the how? what? and why? behind the design of tasks for e-learning, the intention was to enable course teams in particular to engage critically with pedagogy in their development of e-learning tasks.
As the use of e-learning expands in Higher Education (HE) staff play a critical role in developing successful and appropriate pedagogies for their courses. Most HE staff have not been e-learners themselves and thus need more assistance to engage with the affordances technology can offer (Laurillard, D. 2002). Crucially the experiences and perceptions of students engaged in e-learning need to be considered in the task design process.
The project utilised courses in three different Universities and disciplines (Medicine, Education and Business). The research included qualitative questionnaires and a focus group with students, semi-structured interviews with staff, as well as a follow up research activity that allowed staff commentary on both interim findings and an existing JISC model (Beetham, H. 2004).
The approach adopted enabled a generalised understanding of task design, pedagogy and experience. What is clear from the work is that the student's own professional educational context needs to be central to the design of tasks. These contexts can be shared by participants to encourage interaction and collaboration. This combination allows benefits of both situated and socially constructed learning
Course team's experiences of designing online components were clearly influenced very strongly by time as a resource. Successful teamwork requires collaboration; meaningful collaboration of all stakeholders requires time. Design was more successful where existing models of tasks were available, where there was a shared course ethos and there was active course centred research within the team.
Beetham, H. (2004) Review of e-learning models for the JISC practitioner communities. JISC E-learning and Pedagogy Programme Report.
Laurillard, D (2002) Rethinking University Teaching, a conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies, London, Routledge Falmer.