Evaluating e-Learning Courses for Continuing Professional Development Using the Conversational Model:
A Review of UNIGIS

Dr. Charles Buckley, Senior Lecturer/International Co-ordinator, Sport Studies (bucklec@hope.ac.uk) and
Karl Donert, International Fellow (donertk@hope.ac.uk) Liverpool Hope University College, England
Correspondence address: Dr C. Buckley, Sport Studies, Liverpool Hope University College,
Taggart Avenue, Liverpool L16 9JD. (http://www.hope.ac.uk)

Abstract

UNIGIS is a distance learning course designed specifically for students working in the area of geographical information and is now represented by a worldwide network of educational institutions. This study aimed to assess the pedagogical orientation of the programme, the usefulness of Laurillard's Conversational Model as an evaluative tool and, student perceptions of the course in relation to their expectations for continuing professional development (CPD). An integrated evaluation strategy was used combining analysis of 23 on-line questionnaires, interviews with 14 students and 5 tutors together with an analysis of e mail messages sent amongst UNIGIS students over a period of twelve months. The course goes some way to encouraging student discourse and interaction yet the scope and organisation of the mail-base does not develop a true feeling of community. The Conversational Model focuses on the individual learner and interaction between tutor and student. It provides a suitable framework to assess how well a system integrates and organises people involved in different roles within the learning environment. It can act as a useful tool for evaluating the process of learning, in particular the potential of course materials for encouraging a reflective and considered approach to learning. Students were very positive about most features, especially the core materials, workshops and flexibility in course structure. However, they requested smaller self-contained units of learning materials which could be integrated into their work schedules for immediate application and certification.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, learning management system, MOOC, interaction, LMS,

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