THE ROLE OF EVIDENCE IN ONLINE LEARNING DESIGN: EDUCATORS AND UNIVERSITY PROFESSIONAL STAFF PERSPECTIVES AND EXPERIENCES
1 Imperial College London (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 University of Leeds (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The design and delivery of fully online and blended programmes by Higher Education Institutions (HEI) has gained great attention, as it is seen to be a strategic move towards flexible and adaptive learning which enhances the student learning experience. A team-based design approach to online learning, where educators’ work in partnership with professional staff (e.g. learning designers/ technologists, learning analytics experts) and sometimes students, has become a mechanism for supporting educational innovation and for developing quality offerings , . The use of evidence to shape pedagogical decisions of such educational innovations and designs has been considered as one of the key components for the provision of high quality learning and teaching , . Therefore, there is an expectation for educational decision-makers to adopt an evidence-informed approach to their learning design. This is also reflected on HEIs’ (digital) learning and teaching strategies and mission statements. The use of evidence can facilitate critical thinking and go beyond individuals’ opinions and intuitions on “what works” and/or the adoption of educational myths (e.g. learning styles). Ultimately, evidence-informed educational decision-making aims to make potential solutions visible, and utilises ideas and evidence that emerge from systematic assessment of learning and teaching approaches . Despite the importance and emphasis on evidence for educational decision-making, there is a dearth of studies focusing on this topic, especially in the context of university online learning design teams.
To address the identified gap on the literature, this paper reports on a multiple case study research design exploring the role of evidence in educators and university professional staff decision-making when designing for credit-bearing online learning. Data was collected from three online module teams in different UK university contexts via semi-structured interviews, design team meeting observations and document analysis over a period of one year. Thematic analysis was used to inductively analyse data. Results from this study show that there is a variation as to how, and to what extent, each team and/or individuals’ utilized evidence to inform their decision-making. Four themes were identified; a perceived lack or limited usefulness of evidence, evidence as inspiration and rationale for pedagogical decisions, educational frameworks and theory as foundations for decisions, and the production of research and evaluation to inform future cycles of decisions. Based on these findings, practical implications for educators, university professional and leadership staff and educational researchers are discussed along with recommendations for future research.
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Keywords: Evidence-informed Educational Decision-Making, Online Learning, Higher Education, Team-based Learning Design.