Enhancing ICT supported distributed learning through action design research

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (monograph) | Defence date: 2012-08-03
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Information Systems Science
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133 s.
Aalto University publication series. DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 92/2012
Development of information and communication technology (ICT) enables novel ways for interaction in addition to diminishing boundaries of time and place in teaching and learning. In a distributed learning approach online technologies are blended with campus-based in person activities. In higher education, keeping up with the change creates interests and concerns, which the organization has to attend to in order to employ learning technologies productively in line with its strategic goals. The purpose of this study is to present and analyze the researcher’s efforts of making ICT enhanced distributed learning understandable and commensurable to different stakeholders within Helsinki School of Economics. During the research an artifact was built. The artifact is an intervention tool, which may be used on several levels of planning and consultation. The artifact’s core consists of a course website template and a minimalist instructional design process attached to it. The core is surrounded by features of organizational management, quality improvement, in addition to internal and external constraints of the organization. The research question in this study is "How to orchestrate ICT enhanced distributed learning?" The artifact building and organizational intervention were evaluated with data analysis, questionnaires, interviews and reflection. The chosen research methodology, action design research, results in emergent design principles from an artifact centered organizational intervention. Four design principles - contextualization, concordance, collaboration, and commitment - emerged during the building of the artifact. They are intended to be used along with the artifact within another similar organizational development context. During the design process (1996-2010), which included the research process, the volumes of online activities within the organization increased. The change did not include many qualitative changes; especially online interaction has not visibly increased. We employ online services mainly to deliver learning material. Therefore, we do not benefit from the online services’ inbuilt characteristics of flexible information sharing, connectedness, and collaboration. Current use of online activities in teaching and learning reflects existing culture and practices. ICT can be a catalyst to cultural change to show new ways of interaction within an organization. If any change is to be expected, it is likely to be gradual and may take considerable time. Nevertheless, new generations always reconstruct their learning environment. I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. - Rudyard Kipling.
Supervising professor
Rossi, Matti, professor
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