158 paper
At the limits of social constructivism: Moving beyond LMS to re-integrate scholarship

Lisa Wise, James Quealy
Biomedical Multimedia Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne

After more than a decade, the early claims that elearning would transform university teaching are yet to be realised. As elearning, with learning management systems as the centrepiece, becomes entrenched in the mainstream, there is growing demand for a solid theoretical research base to inform elearning practice. We argue that the lack of a solid research base is in part due to the inherent difficulties with cross-disciplinary research where shared terminology does not always equate to shared meaning, and in part due to the dominant applied research approach emphasising a case-based approach over research aimed at addressing specific hypotheses derived from educational theory. We use the popular social constructivist theoretical framework to illustrate a lack of theoretical rigour in elearning research. We examine traditional university teaching as portrayed through a social constructivist lens and argue that academics already adopt the ‘reflective practitioner’ model in their teaching practice. We then examine the concept of adaptive self-organising learning networks in elearning. We argue that, while a social constructivist framework may be ideal for understanding the way people learn, it is at odds not only with the implicit instructional design agenda, but also with current university elearning governance and infrastructure.

Keywords: educational paradigms, learning communities, collaborative learning, organisational change, research methods and approaches