Designs on E-Learning International Conference: Paper – “Online Discussion Forums: Does Culture, Curriculum and Context Matter?” – K. Whittaker

Designs on E-Learning International Conference: Paper – “Online Discussion Forums: Does Culture, Curriculum and Context Matter?” – K. Whittaker

In September 2010, Kevin Whittaker of the New Media cluster, Faculty of Arts, Hull School of Art & Design, Hull, attended the Designs on E-Learning International Conference presented at The University for Creative Careers, Savannah, Georgia in the United States.

Kevin presented a paper to the attendees on the use and efficacy of VLE’s, LAM’s, and other contemporary technology implemented to aid traditional pedagogic practice; a paper he has since updated and presented to the HE Research conference attendees at the KC Stadium in 2011.

Presented at – Designs on E-Learning International Conference:

 The University for Creative Careers, Savannah College of Art Design, Savannah, Georgia, USA.

Date – 15-17 September 2010

 Paper Title – “Online Discussion Forums: Does Culture, Curriculum and Context Matter?”

Presented by Kevin Whittaker, Hull School of Art and Design, Hull College Group, Yorkshire, England, UK.


 This paper examines the reasons for the decline in student engagement with the online discussion forum and resources provided for Art and Design undergraduates on BA (Hons) Web Design, Games Design and Interactive Multimedia Design programmes.

Technological advancements in the internet have provided educational institutions with the opportunity to develop online learning environments, often in an attempt to replicate traditional teaching methods. There is evidence to suggest this has not had a major impact on learning. Pedagogical innovations in online teaching challenge the methodologies applied to these traditional approaches, and argue that there has been far too much focus on managing the integration of resource content. As a result, the fundamental process of education is often missing.

Students predominantly engaged with designing and building internet related products provides rich diversity leaning amongst student’s means they will often find their own online resources which they believe best meet their learning styles. However depending on the resource used, this can often lead to students constructing their own meaning incorrectly.  Blended e-learning is a challenging aspect of teaching and is influenced by the same individual characteristics and diversity of students in ‘face to face’ teaching. Activity based online learning has the potential to synthesise class room activities whilst providing discussion through distance learning.

Culture, curriculum and context influence teaching philosophy and practice. Online learning needs to focus on blending ‘real and virtual spaces’ otherwise the curriculum design will not be aligned. This paper explores the feasibility of utilising a Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) as an alternative to the traditional approach. This e-learning tool provides a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities.

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