A Virtual Learning Guide: Technologies and Learnin

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Paper Abstract:

In 1998, developmental work and research began on provision of web-based virtual learning materials at Swinburne University of Technology, Lilydale. Two events (first - the decision to provide printed learning guides, and second - the arrival of the Information Technology, Systems and Multimedia Discipline Leader) acted as catalytic agents for development of these virtual learning materials and consequent, action research for the case under study.

The virtual learning materials research project required grounding in at least one of the instructional theories. The research to date indicates that it is important to be as comprehensive as possible in terms of instructional strategies, in particular gaining the learner's attention, presenting of objectives and stimulating recall of knowledge both learned and previously acquired. Petry et al (Petry, Mouton and Reigeluth, 1987) has in part provided a synopsis of selected theories and models of instructional theory that are drawn upon at this time. However, instructional strategies only form one facet of the formative questions. The second is learner motivation. Here, the research draws upon the work of Keller et al who has explicitly addressed the use of motivational strategies, (cf Keller and Kopp, 1987;).

This paper is constituted as a series of questions emanating from a reflective action research approach to the operation of, or socialisation of, individuals and groups acting as agents within an Australian regional university campus setting. The campus setting in essence provides boundaries, or constrains certain variables, within which to observe actors. For example the campus would be considered small with only 1500 - 1800 students and staffing of about 30 academics for some twelve discipline areas.

Significant to the researcher/author, in the present research, is the investigation and implementation of learner-centric computer-mediated online studies and also the reflexive monitoring of operationalised research and developments. This can be more specifically portrayed as:

· Subject delivery, using Computer-Mediated Learning (CML),
· Development of a Virtual Learning Guide Template (VLGT);
· Investigation of first year student reactions to CML and virtual learning materials;
· Investigation of learner motivation and the apparent performance goal orientation of students in the case study;
· Operationalising research outcomes, and the reflexive monitoring and measurement of implementations.

Theme Learning and Teaching Online: Sub-theme B – Curriculum design, online learning and teaching modes, and best practice; and Evaluation of online learning and teaching.


Within the development work of a computer-mediated and web-based virtual learning guide template (VLGT) is the need for an understanding of the axiomatic position of the Swinburne University of Technology, Lilydale (SUTL campus), as that position acts to constrain a number of learning systems variables.

In the early 1990’s a campus decision was made by the academic staff that every subject taught at the campus must have a learning guide in printed form and available for sale at cost to all students. The guides were to contain the substantive content of the subject being taught, and to express the learning objectives inherent in that study. As the Learning Materials Specification (Paterson & Weal, 1995) states:

“Learning Guides are the vehicle for communicating learning expectations and learning modes. They map the route that your students should follow in order to complete their studies successfully.”

The learning guide model has been operational since 1994. The implementation of these guides and observations by the researcher have led to several broad questions (outlined below) that require research in order to more fully understand the ramifications and outcomes. Before asking the questions, its is important to state the axiomatic position of the academics concerned, with the learn
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