WHAT DO LECTURERS SAY ABOUT THEIR USE OF A SYNCHRONOUS TOOL IN AN OPEN UNIVERSITY?
E-learning has recently become an important reality in distance education. An education based on electronic tools and media via Internet can be implemented using synchronous and asynchronous methods (Karal, Cebi & Turgut, 2011). From an educational psychology perspective, it is essential to explore teaching and learning processes that are displayed in these new learning environments. As we believe, these processes are partially influenced by teachers' representations, emotions, etc. This study belongs to a broader research aimed at analysing certain psychological variables among the educational community in an online university. In a first stage a survey among lecturers and students of Psychology was conducted in order to determine the extent of use and perceived usefulness of several e-learning tools. The survey revealed that the web conferencing tool Blackboard Collaborate was one of the most appreciated e-learning tools, while not one of the most frequently used. This result encouraged a deeper analysis on the kind of learning processes that lecturers were promoting using this way of communication. Besides, it is important to know about the hot dimension (Pintrich, Marx & Boyle, 1993), that is to say, the kind of motivation and attitudes that lecturers hold towards the use of Blackboard Collaborate. In order to go deeper into these aspects, a case study was carried out. Lecturers in Psychology volunteered to being interviewd about several aspects (their objectives, perceived roles, feelings before, during and after the sessions, etc.). The results point out that Blackboard Collaborate is being employed mainly to develop a more traditional way of classroom participation and, only in some cases, to encourage a more active and deeper meaning construction by students. Regarding the hot variables, the participants link their own motivation and attitudes to the satisfaction that students show during the web conferencig sessions. Educational implications for improving the use of sychronous tools in e-learning environments are discussed.