Provocative Pedagogies in e-Learning:Making the Invisible Visible

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A review of the Sinclair (2009) paper

Research findings:

The purpose of this research was to promote critical,reflective thinking for teachers involved in an online course to feed into their practice.  Participants were made up of primary,secondary and early childhood teachers and the focus for the study was whether or not a collaborative online community would encourage ‘deeper conceptual understandings’ for the learner than a traditional classroom.

It was evident that role-plays in the online environment work well and are a useful way of encouraging the examination of ‘others’ viewpoints in a non-threatening way,thus promoting self-reflection.    A positive outcome of the asynchronous interaction encouraged individuals to put forward considered substantiated arguments whereas in ‘face to face’ discussions ideas were largely put forward by the individual’s own experiences.

Implications for Practice:

Online learning whether to compliment the ‘face to face’ class as in blended learning or as the sole means of delivery has the potential to develop critical convergent and divergent thinking skills.  Key benefits that came as a result of the online discourse showed learners became more independent,they learned from each other,they developed deeper understanding and relied less on the lecturer. 

Facilitation by the lecturer was crucial however in terms of providing quality and timely feedback along with steering of discussions to an intended outcome.    Obstacles to learning within an online community were lack of broadband access and the unfamiliar learning environment.    Some younger students (5 – 18) may experience hinders to the learning process due to a lack of literacy in which case audio alternatives could be a substitute.

  • Heuristic – helping to learn,guiding investigation,allowing pupils to learn for themselves,
  • Dialectic – debate intended to resolve differences,logical argument


Sinclair Anne,Provocative Pedagogies in e-Learning:Making the Invisible Visible
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 2009,Volume 21,Number 2,197-209



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