An activity theory approach to the exploration of tutors’ perceptions of effective online pedagogy
The School of Education, University of Nottingham (UoN), UK and Beiwai:Online, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) Beijing, China have been engaged on a collaborative project to develop a generic module for the training of online tutors as part of the eChina-UK programme. This has led to a learner centred approach to the training that provides trainee tutors with a tool that can be used to support them in taking a critical approach to the analysis of the online learning activities. Activity theory has been used as the basis for the development of this online Learning Activity Analysis Tool which supports tutors in analysing and then discussing with their peers the online activities. The online LAAT provides a rich source of data on the tutors’ perceptions of effective online pedagogy. This has the advantage over other approaches such as the use of interviews and/or scenarios in that the data is captured in context with the tutors’ underlying beliefs about effective teaching and learning being elicited through the use of the LAAT. The paper describes the LAAT, its use within the tutor training module and the ways it is being used to research tutors perceptions of teaching and learning.
Keywords: activity theory, online learning, tutor training, research, pedagogic beliefs