Toward Diversity in Researching Teaching and Technology Philosophies-in-Practice in e-Learning Communities

Toward Diversity in Researching Teaching and Technology Philosophies-in-Practice in e-Learning Communities

Gale Parchoma (Centre for Studies in Advanced Learning Technologies (CSALT) & Lancaster University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch004
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e-Learning is pervasively perceived as a singular enterprise, subject to broad claims and overarching critiques. From this viewpoint, the strengths and weakness of large-scale e-learning implementations in supporting all forms of teaching and learning in higher education can be examined through best-practices lenses. This chapter contests the e-learning singularity paradigm through examining a sample of diverse e-learning communities, each of which may be associated with distinct teaching and technology philosophies-of-practice, as well as divergent research and development histories. A gestalt view of interacting and interlocking teaching and technology philosophies underpins a call for local actions aimed at achieving the democratization of e-learning environment design and fostering both difference and connectivity across e-learning communities of research and practice.
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Much attention has been and continues to be focused on examinations and theories of e-learning adoption in higher education (Anderson, 2008; Archer, Garrison, & Anderson, 1999; Bates, 2000, 2005; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004; Greener & Perriton, 2005; Laurillard, 2008; Nickols, 2008; Njenga, 2008; Parchoma, 2008; Stahl & Hesse, 2009). To date, this discourse has been marked by generalist approaches, which tend to condense all forms of technology-mediated teaching and learning practices in higher education (HE) into an ill-defined field of e-learning research; and advocacy approaches, which promote or redress specific frameworks and models for adoption. Both approaches tend to be spiced with either pro- or anti-commentaries on “technopositivist ideology, a compulsory enthusiasm” (Njenga, 2008, p.2), for the potential for technology to transform teaching and learning in HE. Similarly, both approaches tend to ignore or reject the interrelationships between disciplinary ways of knowing, underpinning philosophies of teaching and technology, and the resultant degrees of alignment or disconnect with institutionally mandated e-learning systems.

In this chapter, I explore an alternative route through contested e-learning territories, a route initially opened for exploration through Kanuka’s (2008) work on understanding e-learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. References are made to higher education [HE], adult education [AE], technology and educational technology literatures in order to bring a relevant range of perspectives on teaching and technology relevant to bear on the issues at-hand. My efforts focus on achieving the following objectives:

  • 1.

    Undertaking a critical examination of Kanuka’s (2008) framework and recommendations.

  • 2.

    Extending the range of both teaching and technology philosophies-in-practice under consideration.

  • 3.

    Theorizing a gestalt perspective on interrelationships between teaching and technology praxes.

  • 4.

    Examining four recognizable e-learning research and practice communities for associations with teaching and technology philosophies-in-practice.

  • 5.

    Making a case for continued diversity in e-learning research and practice communities as an avenue to reconciliation of these virtual communities with their social, place-based environments.

  • 6.

    Positing the interplay between teaching and technology philosophies-in-practice as a site for researching diverse views.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blended Learning: An approach that blends classroom face-to-face learning experiences with technologically mediated learning experiences in both integrated and distributed models, supported by a community of researchers and practitioners, who tend to promote the development critical thinking skills through a community of inquiry framework.

Gestalt of e-Learning: Recognition of reflexive, interrelated philosophical, technological, social, environmental, and pedagogical agencies within e-learning design and dissemination processes

Philosophies of Technology: Schools of thought on the underpinning purposes and goals of technologies.

Philosophies of Teaching: Schools of thought on the underpinning purposes and goals of teaching and learning.

Technology Enhanced Learning: An approach to the provision of distance, blended, and classroom-based learning experiences through the use of a full range of information and communications technologies undertaken by communities of educational researchers, designers, information and communications technologists, and media specialists.

Philosophies-in-Practice: The actualization of philosophical stances in practice.

e-Learning Singularity Paradigm: A representation of philosophically, technologically, and pedagogically diverse, technology-mediated approaches to teaching and learning as a homogenous set of researchable practices, from which best practices can be distilled and generalized across social, cultural and geographical contexts.

Networked Learning: A relational approach that focuses on the connections between learners, learners and teacher and between learners and resources, which does not privilege any particular relationship, either between people or between people and resources, and is supported by a community of researcher-practitioners, who are aligned with evolving, postmodern approaches to teaching praxis.

Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning: An approach to developing technology-mediated, collaborative learning experiences, supported by an interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners whose goals include developing theory, technology, research methods, and educational practices to enhance collaborative learning.

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