A Learner Support System: Scaffolding to Enhance Digital Learning

By Arianne Rourke and Kathryn Coleman.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The 21st Century student is the first to spend more time online than watching television (Prensky, 2001; Berger, 2002; Palfrey & Gasser, 2008). For decades these online technologies and learning mediums have been used, now they dominate life, work and education. To enrich and engage these ‘switched on’ students, an instructional learning platform was designed to shape and direct research and writing for Postgraduate coursework students. The pedagogical stance taken by the authors is quality teaching and learning and authentic task design within a constructivist-scaffold elearning space, which maximised the learning and digital teaching environment. Educational research and constructivist online learning (Vygotsy, 1978; Marshall & McLoughlin, 2000; McLoughlin, 2002) techniques in scaffolding support the hypothesis that a “learner support system” (McLoughlin & Marshall, 2000, p.1) creates a climate for learning that is supportive and driven by the pedagogy not the technology. Scaffolding increases cognitive growth in the online learning and digital teaching environment and has been found to promote self-directed learners. As Larkin (2006) suggested, “instructional design that weaves together a sequence of content, materials, tasks and supports to optimise learning” is an effective approach to pedagogy that educators in higher education should adopt. This supportive and motivating environment is particularly successful with International students (Henry & Li, 2005; Rourke, Mendelssohn & Coleman, 2008). This paper will report a case study where a digitally supported elearning system was used to scaffold student learning for writing a research paper in the Master of Art Administration (coursework) in a twelve-week session at College of Fine Arts (COFA) University of New South Wales (UNSW). This paper will also provide some critical reflections on how this area of elearning could be used across the disciplines to enhance student learning.

Keywords: Scaffolding Learning, Teaching Writing Skills Online, Postgraduates Online Learning, Authentic Task Design, Constructivist Online Learning, Digital Teaching Environment, Instructional Learning Platforms, Learner Support System, Self-directed Learners, International Students Online, e-Learning in Arts Administration

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.55-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.875MB).

Dr. Arianne Rourke

Lecturer, The School of Art History and Art Education, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

My research interests are in online teaching and learning, visual literacy, learning styles and the application of Cognitive load theory to improving instructional design in higher education specifically in the area of improving the teaching of undergraduate design history and postgraduate arts administration towards the long term retention of learning.

Dr Kathryn Coleman

Student, The School of Art History and Art Education, Cofa UNSW, Marrickville, NSW, Australia

Kathryn Sara Coleman is a Creative Arts and online learning and teaching Coordinator in secondary schools and Postgraduate and Postgraduate Research student in the School of Art History and Education at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. Her research is in the field of eLearning in the Arts and it implications for postgraduate online learners and the Arts as a whole. She has an interest in online communication, eLearning management systems and uses of social software and its implications to teaching and learning in the future.


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