Assessing Teaching and Students' Meaningful Learning Processes in an E-Learning Course

Assessing Teaching and Students' Meaningful Learning Processes in an E-Learning Course

Päivi Hakkarainen (University of Lapland, Finland), Tarja Saarelainen (University of Lapland, Finland) and Heli Ruokamo (University of Lapland, Finland)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-410-1.ch002
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In this chapter the authors report on the assessment framework and practices that they applied to the e-learning version of the Network Management course at the University of Lapland’s Faculty of Social Sciences. The objective of the assessment was to examine students’ perspective regarding how a digital video-supported, case-based teaching approach supported students’ meaningful learning. The model for teaching and meaningful learning (TML) was used as the theoretical assessment framework. To answer the research questions, the authors gathered data through questionnaires completed by the students. The assessment provided them with evidence concerning the student perspective on teaching and learning processes during the e-learning course. The authors will describe and discuss this evidence in this chapter. In addition, they discuss the strengths and limitations of the assessment framework, and practices that they applied to the Network Management course.
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The E-Learning Version Of Network Management

Network Management was implemented online in spring 2005 for students in the final stages of their master’s degree in the Faculty of Social Sciences. The focus of the course is public administration and management, with the aims being that students learn to 1) define a network as a structural and functional form of inter-organizational co-operation, 2) understand how organizational management and leadership differ from network management and leadership, and 3) distinguish different types of networks and understand their limitations. These course goals can be expressed in terms of more specific objectives corresponding to the cases taken up in the course. The rationale for the online implementation was to allow students to develop the desired skills while working in electronic environments, as these are rapidly becoming the norm for employees in public administration (see Schedler, Summermatter, & Schmidt, 2004).

Thirty-three students enrolled for the two-month course. They ranged in age from 22 to 51 years and were spread throughout the country. Following a four-hour introductory, face-to-face lecture, the students embarked on case-based work in groups of three to five using the Finnish Discendum Optima learning management systema. This environment, similar to WebCT and Blackboard, enabled the teacher to provide guidance and facilitated small group conversations, delivery of course materials and preparation of assignments.

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