Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 1, No. 2 (2004)

Managing learner interactivity: A precursor to knowledge exchange

Ken Purnell, Central Queensland University, Australia
Jim Callan, Central Queensland University, Australia
Greg Whymark, Central Queensland University, Australia
Anna Gralton, Central Queensland University, Australia


Our exploratory research involving information and communications technologies (ICTs) which enable accessibility, flexibility and online support for learning communities within and across classrooms has demonstrated the potential to transform student learning through increased engagement and interactivity. For many teachers, however, the increasing challenge of managing the attendant techniques and processes of ICTs introduces a set of dynamics which can undermine the relationships that prevail in archetypal classroom workspaces. We found that the use of ICTs altered the principal social relations in particular, the interpersonal dynamics that exist in traditional classroom settings. We have also found that ICTs enhance student interactivity and engagement, resulting in a need for teacher management of information overload and increased task complexity. Further, we argue that management effort by the teacher is required to maintain a critical balance between that which is to be taught and that which is to be appropriated through learning. In using ICTs such the Zing Team Learning System (ZTLS), the conventions that teachers exercise over relationship boundaries are overturned. Instead processes which engage students, regulate interactivity, support interpersonal collaboration and achieve mutually satisfying communication flows are mobilised. Transformations in learning management result, with teachers and students sharing understanding, co-creating meaning and eliciting knowledge. The findings reported here point to technical processes which can cultivate communities of learning as well as communities of practice. Teachers and students collectively exchange knowledge and validate learning as an outcome of authentic engagement and purposive interaction. Implications for face-to-face teaching and online teaching are also considered from the vantage point of professional pre-service and in-service teacher development.

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