224 paper

Chinese higher education teachers’ conceptions of e-Learning: Preliminary outcomes

David McConnell, Jianhua Zhao
Centre for the Studies in Advanced Learning Technology
Department of Educational Research
Lancaster University

Over the past three years, the Centre for Studies in Advanced Learning Technologies, Lancaster University, and the School of Network Learning, Beijing Normal University, have been involved in the development of e-Learning courses and in carrying out research into e-Learning. During this collaboration, we became aware of cultural differences in our approaches to the design and implementation of e-Learning courses. This led us to consider the differences and similarities in our conceptions of e-Learning, and their effects on the design, development and implementation of e-Learning courses. A new comparative research project looking at UK and Chinese higher education teachers’ conceptions of e-Learning was established. This paper reports on preliminary results of phenomenographic interviews with higher education teachers in China working in ‘conventional, campus-based universities concerning their conceptions of e-Learning. The interviews were analysed from a grounded theory perspective that resulted in a set of preliminary conceptual categories namely the centrality of the lecture, online cooperative learning, network learning, student learning, and infrastructure and access. Discussion of these categories is presented which illuminates the state of e-Learning in Chinese higher education. We conclude that the dominance of traditional teaching methods in China is unlikely to present the conditions for mainstreaming e-Learning in the near future.

Keywords: conceptions of e-Learning, phenomenography, China higher education system, student learning