A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Online Discussion in a Professional Teacher Education Course
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is being increasingly used in both face-to-face and distance learning universities for course delivery and/or for computer-mediated communication (CMC) among course participants. Numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of CMC in promoting learners’ interaction for collaborative learning and social construction of knowledge. The technology is particularly valuable in distance education in providing opportunities for learners to interact in cyberspace as face-to-face contact is often very limited.
The study reported here involved a distance learning course for in-service primary school teachers who were receiving their initial teacher training. It is a teaching methodology course and the course materials include print, audio CDs, VCDs and an online environment with a discussion board. The study aims to analyse, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the messages posted by students during the course. Altogether there were 280 course participants and around 800 messages were captured at the end of the course. The analysis, however, indicated that not all students participated in the online discussion and the most popular discussion topics were those practical school problems, such as classroom management and ways to help low achievers to improve. The paper will present quantitative data on the number of participating students, and the number and types of messages. It will also analyse the content of the messages qualitatively and discuss the extent to which online discussion can enhance professional development of teachers.
School of Education and Languages
The Open University of Hong Kong
I am an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Languages of The Open University of Hong Kong. My research interest includes: teacher education, open and distance education, and curriculum studies
(Virtual Presentation, English)