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The role of theory in learning technology evaluation research

Phillips, R., Kennedy, G. and McNaught, C. (2012) The role of theory in learning technology evaluation research. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28 (7). pp. 1103-1118.

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This paper attempts a fundamental analysis of the nature of research into e-learning and the role that theory plays in this. We examine ‘research’ in broad terms, and the nature of phenomena in general. We identify that e-learning is an artificial phenomenon, and that research approaches need to be cognisant of the design elements in e-learning, and the cyclical nature of e-learning development. We identify various desired research outcomes which are appropriate at each stage of the elearning lifecycle, and argue that studies of e-learning involve a mixture of evaluation and research.

We discuss e-learning evaluation research in the context of different disciplinary and interdisciplinary research approaches, recognising that there is no one ‘right’ way to do e-learning evaluation research. However, we recognise that there is a varying mixture of a ‘search for fundamental understanding’ and ‘consideration of use’ in elearning evaluation research. We use these considerations to discuss the role of theory in educational research, and, in particular, in e-learning evaluation research, before applying the preceding arguments to the e-learning lifecycle, identifying five different forms of evaluation research.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Teaching and Learning Centre
Publisher: Australian Society for Educational Technology
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