Approaches and implications of e-learning adoption on academic staff efficacy and working practice Publications
This report was commissioned by the Ministry and undertaken by the Universal College of Learning in collaboration with Otago Polytechnic. It examined the multiplicity of staff development (SD) being offered in the polytechnic, university and college of education sectors. It used case study research methodology. It not only examined the current status of SD for e-learning across the tertiary sector, but also other factors impacting on staff experiences with e-learning.
Author(s): Bronwyn Hegarty, Merrolee Penman, Cheryl Brown, Beverley Gower, Oriel Kelly, Dawn Coburn, Grant Sherson and Gordon Suddaby, UCOL. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: September 2005
Released on Education Counts: 16 November 2009
This research project was conducted to provide a snapshot of staff development and self-efficacy in eLearning in the tertiary sector in New Zealand. The project was funded from the 2004-2005 Tertiary e-Learning Research Fund (TeLRF), administered by the Ministry of Education as part of their Tertiary Education Strategy 2002-2007. Researchers and participants for the project were from six institutions, namely:
- UCOL (Universal College of Learning) the lead institution,
- Otago Polytechnic as lead researchers,
- MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology),
- WINTEC (Waikato Institute of Technology),
- Dunedin College of Education and
- Massey University.
An expert panel of researchers from the field of eLearning in New Zealand and Australia were invited to oversee research procedures and findings.
The research project was conducted to investigate whether staff development for eLearning in place at the six institutions for eLearning helped staff develop their capability and confidence to utilise new technologies for teaching. Staff development has been identified by other researchers as a factor associated with the adoption of eLearning in the tertiary sector. The researchers were aware of a number of different models of staff development in use, categorised as either competency-based work-shops for technical skills, just-in-time) or capability-based (metacognitive strategies e.g. mentoring) or formal qualifications in eLearning. It was understood from other research studies, that timely and appropriate staff development, in a supportive and strategic institutional culture, was more likely to lead to an enhanced adoption of eLearning
Case study methodology was used to investigate three main questions: the range of eLearning staff development models offered by New Zealand tertiary providers; how staff development models prepared academic staff for eLearning and the relationship to self-efficacy; why some models were more effective than others. In other words this research aimed to investigate the effect of meta-cognitive strategies on self-efficacy, and the association with how learners applied their knowledge. The research was conducted in four stages:
Stage 1: focus groups were carried out to establish common terms used by staff in various institutions to aid in the development in the questionnaire
Stage 2: implementation of an online questionnaire to survey self-efficacy of staff in eLearning as facilitated through staff development (formal and informal) opportunities,
Stage 3: individual interviews of selected staff.
Stage 4: two types of case study were developed - individual and thematic – to provide a snapshot of the current situation with staff development for eLearning. The findings are merely representative of polytechnic, university and college of education academic staff not conclusive regarding the tertiary sector.
In addition an in-depth literature review was used to inform the development of the questionnaire, and design of the individual interviews. The qualitative data (comments on online questionnaire and interviews) was interpreted using thematic analyses. The quantitative data (self rating scores) was analysed using descriptive statistics.
Overall, participants scored high self-efficacy for eLearning, and the majority had some experience in eTeaching. Most people had attended formal staff development workshops, and all participants used a wide range of strategies for self-directed staff development (informal). There were four main findings:
- There was a predominance of competency-based workshops and support offered by all six institutions (face-to-face, online, one-on-one, mentoring) as well as qualifications, just-in-time support, show casing and visiting expert seminars.
- Informal staff development was the most common practice and there was evidence of staff using metacognitive strategies for their learning.
- Existing formal staff development models in the six institutions were not adequate to assist staff to fully develop their capability and potential for eLearning as they were mainly providing a beginning competency.
- The findings of this project were consistent with research elsewhere in the New Zealand tertiary sector, for example, Mitchell, Clayton, Gower, Barr and Bright (2005) in relation to factors impacting on staff who engage with eLearning, and some of the impediments which may affect adoption of eLearning, e.g. time and adequate support.
The following recommendations are made in the interests of developing capability for both academic and support staff and to extend the potential of eLearning for staff and students alike.
- Apply a multi-faceted approach to staff development using competency-based and capability-based methods. Staff development should be designed to meet each institution's specific needs, and situated in the programmes and teaching methods required by staff, as opposed to staff having to take training focussed on a LMS and work to fit their teaching to it.
- Flexible delivery methods, and a variety of strategies to promote experimentation and exploration, would make staff development accessible to a broader selection of staff.
- A project team approach could be used to foster staff through metacognitive learning process with both training and scholarly activity used to cover technical and pedagogical aspects. Within the team would be a number of peers and the appropriate support personnel including an expert peer as a mentor. Additionally, this approach would promote a community of practice and result in a "snowball" effect on other staff.
- Provide incentives including funding, time release and promotion for staff who engage in project team, mentoring and community of practice approaches to staff development for the planning and implementation of flexible courses.
Suggestions for further research are listed in Chapter Six.
Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email: Requests EDK
Phone: +64 4 463 8065