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'Shovelware' as staff development: A useful introduction to moving online

Sparrow, H., Herrington, J.ORCID: 0000-0002-9960-4677 and Herrington, A. (2000) 'Shovelware' as staff development: A useful introduction to moving online. In: Moving Online: A conference to explore the challenges for workplaces colleges and universities, 18 - 19 August 2000, Gold Coast, Qld pp. 236-246.


There has been a huge growth in the number of tertiary courses offered online over the last two years, but questions are often raised about the quality of some of them. The term 'shovelware' has crept into the educational vernacular. This derogatory label is commonly used to describe courses, which simply place previously existing print materials, developed for distance education programs, into an online mode. A three-year project at Edith Cowan University (ECU) was established in 1999, to develop a suite of 15 coursework masters programs, which can be studied in an online mode. The ultimate goal of the project is that every unit will be designed (or revised), developed and conducted online according to constructivist principles of authentic learning, to model best practice. As an interim step, however, the project includes simple conversion of print-based external units, as one of several strategies of development. Although this was initially done for pragmatic reasons, to ensure that there would be sufficient units available to offer wide course choices to students, positive outcomes for students are being achieved in terms of increased communication, accessibility and quality of resources, and encouragement to use technology in learning. The experience of involvement in the project, and associated development opportunities, has also demonstrated substantial benefits for staff, as a first tentative step towards moving online. Reflection on the staff development program reveals that it mirrors many of the constructivist principles underpinning the whole project.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Notes: Appears In: Moving online : a conference to explore the challenges for workplaces, colleges and universities : proceedings of the Moving Online conference 2000
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