THE PEDAGOGICAL VARIATION MODEL FOR ONLINE LEARNING AND TEACHING: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
The aim of the research paper is to investigate how the role of the ‘e-moderator’ as pedagogical leader can be successfully implemented in online teaching and learning particularly in relation to e-learner online behaviours. To do this several models are critiqued including those of Ramsden (1991), Goodyear (1999), Garrison, Anderson, Rourke and Archer (2000), Laurillard (2002), Morgan and Belfer (2007), Morrison (2007), Moule, (2007), Bass and Elmerdorf (2009), and Salmon (2011) amongst others. Consequently a gap in the literature becomes evident where little is discussed regarding the implementation of leadership strategies in developing sound practice for online learning and teaching. Thus an understanding of Bass and Alvolio (1996) leadership paradigm became a significant spring board to the research. As a result their ‘transactional/task-giving’ and ‘transformational/motivational’ leadership behaviours were found by Rogers (2013) to be applicable to e-moderator online performance. A further review of the research literature provided concepts crucial to understanding e-learner online behaviour i.e. collaborative capability and knowledge construction ability. These two parameters are utilised to create a new model, the ‘Pedagogical Variation Model’ (PVM), which views online teaching as situational, so that e-learners of varying degrees of capability can be given opportunities to maximise their online learning by matching appropriate e-moderator online leadership strategies. The theoretical framework adopted Karl Popper’s (2002) hypothetico-deductive methodology using a sample of experienced e-moderator practitioners from a UK University in South Wales. Kelly’s (1955) personal construct psychology (PCP) was adopted using six elements: socialising, scaffolding, knowledge construction, weaving, summarising and archiving. In accordance with the hypothetico-deductive approach, an evaluation was then conducted with the objective of refuting the basic underlying assumptions of the PVM. The model withstood attempts at falsification, but is presented here as provisional, open to further scrutiny, testing and comparison.
An international collaborative project with the Faculty of Education, Kuwait University (2014) provided revealing findings. It emerged that e-learner preferences indicated a more “instructivist” approach as compared to the preferred e-moderator “constructivist” approach in the UK sample. Future research could be in the development of diagnostic tools for e-moderator evaluation of e-learner capabilities and on e-learner preferences regarding the selection of a particular online learning environment. It is suggested that effective online teaching is dependent not only on e-learner context but also on e-moderators’ pedagogical leadership. In conclusion the PVM successfully shows how adaptations in design and delivery can be made in asynchronous learning networks (ALNs) to motivate and facilitate successful outcomes for e-learners, whether they are digital natives or digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001). The study claims that the attrition rate of students in online courses underpinned by the PVM would decrease because e-learners have the opportunity to study in online environments which are more conducive for their respective individual learning habits. Online course providers and developers may also use the PVM as a blueprint for exploring creative ways of implementing new emerging learning technologies fit for the 21st Century.