Guldberg, Karen (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This research focuses on the productive learning processes of students studying a blended e-learning programme for practitioners and carers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It is an ethnographic case study undertaking a holistic analysis of learning processes. It draws upon socio cultural and activity theory as theoretical lenses and using dimensions from the communities of practice framework to interpret the kinds of discourse that are suggestive of a community of practice. The study examines how learners appropriate the professional discourse, values and goals of the ASD carer and the kind of collaborative engagement students have with each other’s contributions. Findings highlight that online discussions are powerful mechanisms for the development of reflection, for giving parents a strong voice and for shaping the values of this community. The research suggests that a facilitation model that enables students to be co-learners and co-tutors together, supports the development of a community of practice, thus enabling students to acquire knowledge in one context in order to transform it to another. Recommendations include the need for further studies that examine a particular communication medium in detail and over time, that communities of practice can add value to pedagogy in higher education and that programme tutors need to consider the specific properties of different communication mediums when designing programmes.
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