Teachers as Media Producers in Virtual Classrooms
Tim Neumann, London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education
This project explored audiographic web conferencing technology (Virtual Classrooms) for distance education with a focus on teacher roles. “Teacher” was broadly defined as a person initiating and leading an educational episode, and the term was used as a synonym to tutor, lecturer, facilitator, presenter, speaker, or related terms. The exploration resulted in the following main achievements:
- Setup and use of Virtual Classroom technology. The achievements include an evaluation strategy for the selection of relevant technology, but also the identification of institutional processes and organisational issues that may support or hinder the introduction of new technology. The technology itself was available beyond the duration of the project until mid 2007 because of supportive relationships with commercial providers. Three different platforms were actively used during this project and one additional platform was trialled. Building on the experience from these activities, one webcast was produced by combining freely available independent tools shortly after the end of this project as a proof of concept.
- Collection of data to enhance the understanding of teaching in Virtual Classrooms. Based on a participatory action research framework, six Virtual Classroom sessions were held for data collection purposes. The data was collected by observing teaching and learning activities, followed up with teacher interviews and one learner survey. The analysis of this data provided rich accounts on teacher role perception and behaviour in Virtual Classrooms, and also helped to identify benefits and limitations of Virtual Classrooms in a distance education context.
- Establishing a basis for examining pedagogic frameworks for Virtual Classrooms. This project identified a gap between pedagogical theory and the technology in question, and it suggests a pathway to fill this gap by developing pedagogic models which link learning and knowledge issues in Virtual Classrooms with existing practitioner advice. This pathway will be put into practice in a follow-up project in the second round of funded CDE Award projects, which is entitled MoSAIC: Models for Synchronous Audiographic Interactive Conferencing, led by Dr Sara de Freitas at the London Knowledge Lab.