Virtual Learning and Teaching Environments

Virtual Learning and Teaching Environments

Heike Wiesner (Berlin School of Economics, Germany)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch188
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Without a well-thought-out didactic concept, the best surface design isn’t of any help. This article contains results from an empirical study I conducted independently. It was developed in the context of the umbrella project “gender and information technologies” in the context of the Vifu (virtual international women university), a project financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and carried out at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Women at the University of Kiel. This empirical study provides insight into the field of “virtual learning and teaching”. It is based on an expert survey and reflects the specific experience instructors had with virtual seminars. The study focuses on the following question: What convergences and divergences can be identified in experts’ specific experience with forms of virtual teaching? I proceeded from the assumption that intercultural and gender factors affect the design, structure, and implementation of virtual learning and teaching environments. This assumption shaped the study. Experts were generally defined as all persons who have practical experience in virtual teaching, especially in the research fields of gender and computer sciences. Since virtual learning and teaching environments is a new, experimental field, none of the interviewed experts had more than two to three years of teaching experience in this area. Some of them have programmed and developed the online module themselves. Most of the fourteen interviews were conducted face-to-face, three of the interview partners were sent a questionnaire by e-mail. With them I conducted “semi-standardized interviews” (Mayring, 1996) and all were evaluated with the core sentence method. Core sentences are “natural generalizations” used by the interview partners themselves (Leithäuser & Volmerg, 1988; Volmerg, Senghaas-Knobloch, & Leithäuser, 1986). These are statements that make a point succinctly, reducing entire paragraphs to a single statement. In contrast to the deductive method, the inductive method I used has the advantage that the meaning of the “spoken word” is not lost. It is particularly useful in the development of hypotheses.

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