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On-Line Discussion Forums: New Platforms to supplement Professional Development at Walter Sisulu University BY Z.G.Baleni RPL Manager

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On-Line Discussion Forums: New Platforms to supplement Professional Development at Walter Sisulu University BY Z.G.Baleni RPL Manager. Topics to cover. Introduction Staff Development Online discussion Methodology Results Conclusion Recommendations. Introduction.

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slide1

On-Line Discussion Forums: New Platforms to supplement Professional Development at Walter Sisulu UniversityBYZ.G.BaleniRPL Manager

topics to cover
Topics to cover
  • Introduction
  • Staff Development
  • Online discussion
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
introduction
Introduction
  • Staff development is primarily an institutional responsibility and operationalised within an institutional context,
  • However, it is increasingly influenced by national policies and global trends.
  • Institutions respond to these demands and take up national policies in different ways
slide4

depending on their :

    • missions,
    • contexts,
    • institutional culture,
    • resources etc.

The WSU context is that the Centre for Learning and Teaching Development (CLTD) has been mandated with academic staff development

slide5

CLTD mission is to “promote excellence in learning and teaching by providing integrated and specialized professional expertise and services for all faculties towards the improvement of the institutional learning and teaching culture”.

  • Goal 4 of WSU Learning and Teaching Strategy
  • WSU 2017 strategy
slide6

WSU being a multi-campus institution poses a challenge to face-to-face academic staff development

The question is:

  • How to balance academic staff development with the core business of academics being in class always?
  • How can CPDU achieve its goal of professionalising academics with least disruption of the academic programme?
slide7

With the introduction of Blackboard(BB) as WSU virtual learning environment(VLE), an option was seen as possible.

The question,

  • is it practical? What will be the lecturers’ attitude?
  • This case study is trying to respond to these challenges
staff development
Staff Development
  • An umbrella term for developing the capacity of higher education staff to fulfil their professional roles effectively; this includes training, educating, capacity-building and individual consultation

(HEQC, Learning & Teaching Resource pack, 2005)

slide9

Staff development be integral part of an institution’s human resource development strategy and practice rather than an isolated, optional activity.

  • be at the centre of any attempt to respond to the challenges currently facing professionals in higher education.
  • provide opportunities for training or capacity building in teaching practice as well as information technology upgrading
slide10

Gibbons’(1998) description of the shift from module 1 to module 2 knowledge production has implications for learning and teaching e.g.

    • A shift from content & teacher-centred approach to student and concept-centred learning
  • Technology has revolutionised learning & teaching
slide11

Provision of staff development for teaching is now critical if lecturers are to become knowledgeable about new educational theories and methods.

  • They require skills, knowledge in curriculum design, multi method delivery, teamwork, learning theories, assessment to mention a few.
  • The idea that they require no preparation as educators is fast becoming an anachronism
online discussion forum
Online Discussion Forum
  • Online discussions provide a perfect forum for an academic discourse which promotes:
    • increased student engagement,
    • critical analysis and reflection, and
    • the social construction of knowledge.” Warschauer(1997)
slide13

Levine(2007:68) the discussion board plays a key role in enhancing the educational experience.

  • Promotes “constructivist learning” (Levine 2007:68), promoting active learning where learners construct knowledge instead of acquiring it passively.
slide14

They are an example of a method that could satisfy these needs in a cost-effective manner.

  • Specifically, they provide
    • freedom from time constraints (participants can participate when and if they choose);
    • time for reflection (participants decide when and if they choose to participate)
slide15

opportunities to research and back up assertions; and

    • support for cost effective global communication
  • Finally, learning activities that introduce participants to potentially useful learning and communications technologies provide a valuable training and exposure function.
methodology
Methodology
  • Workshop on “quality issues in e assessment” conducted for 3 days
  • Presentations & extra material uploaded on BB
  • 30 lecturers used
  • All lecturers registered on BB as students
  • Discussion forum created
slide17

All free to post questions & comments on workshop presentations

  • Lecturers expected to share classroom practice on use of learnt/work shopped strategies
  • Observed over a period of five weeks after workshop
  • Questionnaire sent by email to check on level of participation and perception of effectiveness.
discussion
Discussion
  • 1st week observation - only 5 lecturers logged in
  • Of the 5, two had questions , 3 had comments
  • 2nd week after I posted a few questions & email , activity increased to 25 lecturers logging on
  • 3rd week 10 lecturers shared their classroom experience
slide19

4th week – much activity took place, 25 lecturers

  • Last week most lecturers were consistent in logging in and sharing classroom activity
  • Only 5 lecturers never participated
slide20

Questionnaire – use Likert scale

  • Access to internet at home?
    • Only 16% have access at home 84% only access at work
    • Computer literacy level? 70% comfortable in use of internet & computer, 25% average and 5% still have challenges in some computer applications.
slide21

Attitude towards discussion forum

    • 80% enjoyed interaction with colleagues
    • 15% not sure of its role
    • 5% not interested
  • Learn anything
    • 75% agree
    • 20% not sure
    • 5% disagree
slide22

Would use in class

    • 85% strongly agree
    • 10% agree
    • 5% disagree
  • Discussion forum as replacement to face to face workshops
    • 55% strongly agree
    • 40% not sure
    • 5% strongly disagree
slide23

Discussion forums to supplement face-to-face workshops

    • 86% strongly agree
    • 10% agree
    • 4% disagree
slide24

General comments

    • BB user friendly
    • Discussion forums an opportunity to engage colleagues more
    • Less time away from class
    • Theory easily integrated into Classroom practice
    • Challenges

- Internet access

- No computers

- Too much Workload

conclusion
Conclusion
  • The perceived attributes are that the perception by potential adopters that the innovation has relative advantage, is not overly complex, is compatible with existing values and customs, can be tried on a limited basis, and has observable results.
  • The findings of this study suggest that BB has a potential to become a widespread medium for continuing professional staff development.
recommendations
Recommendations
  • The online forum was found to be observable, trialable and relatively easy to use compared to face-to-face workshops but it was perceived as less satisfying.
  • It is a recommended method to supplement face-to-face staff development workshops.
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