An Investigation Into Teachers' Perceptions Of Online Learning At An English Further Education College

Rathe, David John (2004). An Investigation Into Teachers' Perceptions Of Online Learning At An English Further Education College. EdD thesis The Open University.



The case study research investigated two aspects of online learning in a further education college. It was based on two key research questions:

1. Do the teachers in the college believe that development of online learning improves the teaching and learning process?

2. What are the main barriers that the teachers in the college believe are inhibiting the development of online learning?

Through the literature review, beneficial and detrimental effects of online learning development, and barriers to successful development were identified. Through a questionnaire, the views of teachers in the further education college on these effects and barriers were sought. Teachers were also interviewed to independently identify barriers to the development of online learning. From the college data and the evidence from the literature, conclusions were drawn.

The principal conclusion is that most of the college teachers believe that online learning development can improve the teaching and learning process if the identified barriers are successfully removed. In view of the current under-use of online learning in the college, which reflects the national under-use of online learning in the secondary and further education sectors, this is a very important conclusion. It shows that teachers in the college are not using online learning because of any concerns about its detrimental effects on teaching and learning but because there are barriers preventing them using online learning.

Teachers identified a lack of time to develop online learning as the main barrier to its adoption. Teachers also believe that staff development, focusing on the use of online learning to teach their own subjects, is critical. Poor access to online learning hardware was also identified as a significant barrier by the teachers, who agree that learning would improve if learning opportunities, including online, and resources were gathered together in curriculum-focused centres, supported by an adequate number of technicians. An inexperienced learner will, the teachers believe, need support as online learning requires students to acquire learning skills instead of passively learning in classrooms. In particular, students will need to acquire new skills to be able to locate, select, assess and convert information from online sources into relevant knowledge and understanding. Teachers will need to support students in this process. They will also need to be gatekeepers of the quality and relevance of online information accessed by students. Actions to remove the barriers are proposed. Further research on whether online learning improves student achievement is suggested.

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