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Improving the effectiveness of tools for Internet-based education

Dougiamas, M. and Taylor, P.C. (2000) Improving the effectiveness of tools for Internet-based education. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2000: Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching, 2 - 4 February 2000, Curtin University, Curtin

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This report presents results of a study of a class of high-school teachers learning about the Internet in an internet-based course called "Internet Overview".

The course was implemented using a prototype of a new web course development tool called Moodle that uses constructionist referents to model engagement of the participants with course content and each other. The intention of the research was to identify areas to improve Moodle as a tool to build and run effective internet-based courses.

The action research focused on the factors affecting the level and quality of participation in the course, as well as the quality of reflective thinking, interactivity and cognitive support. An online survey of the students, combined with voluminous texts and records created by all participants of the course, led to interviews with students selected for their interesting responses. These texts provided the data with which I attempted to understand how various factors affected the experiences of learning and teaching in this internet-based course.

The results suggest that Moodle as it stands is relatively successful as a tool to produce structured content with workbook-like responses. Two areas needing the most improvement are internet knowledge and student interaction. This encourages me to continue development on two fronts: firstly the Internet Overview course as a tool for students to learn about the Internet; and secondly, functions within Moodle to encourage and manage educational discourse among a class of students within its content-based framework.

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