Developing research designs and methodologies for investigating learning in postgraduate e-learning contexts

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Conference Proceeding
AARE 2005, 2005, pp. 1 - 11
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There are currently diverse approaches to researching learning in e-Learning contexts, as is to be expected in an emergent field of practice. Current approaches focus on return on investment, technologies and implementation, the comparative effectiveness of different environments, student participation and perceptions, course design, evaluation and delivery, and online collaboration and community building. In this paper, we have chosen some reports of such approaches, which we analyse for their worth in making particular aspects of learning explicit. Using these examples as a frame of reference, we then propose our own approach to meeting the challenges of researching learning in e-Learning contexts: an approach that derives from a biologically based generative view of learning. We outline the core tenets and characteristic features of such a research approach, including the nature of the research designs and methodologies that might derive from it, and describe how it is being enacted to study learning in a postgraduate e-Learning subject. We conclude by foreshadowing some implications of these kinds of research designs and methodologies for student learning online and in higher education generally.
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