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Networked Learning Communities

Exploring the variation range in staff experiences and conceptions of webinar technologies in a ‘traditional’ higher education institution.

Abstract

This paper reports the findings of research into staff experiences and conceptions of webinar technologies in a ‘traditional’ higher education institution within the United Kingdom (UK). A phenomenographic approach has been used to identify the variation in experiences and conceptions of the use of webinar conferencing technologies and explores how staff think they could be used within their own context. A range of experiences was identified drawing on key principles identified by the Webinar Integration Tool (Lieser, Taff and Murphy-Hagan, 2018) . These range from no experience through to limited and experienced levels of using webinar technologies. The results reveal a hierarchical outcome space with four qualitatively different categories of description relating to concepts of using with webinar technologies. Concepts of using webinar technologies were identified as being used to provide training and support; to provide professional development; to connect and collaborate and to can used in variety of different ways in learning and teaching.

Key Words

Webinar Technologies, Web Conferencing, Synchronous Audiographic Conferencing, Higher Education, Phenomenography, Conceptions, Traditional Face-to-Face HE Institution

Reflections

I remember getting in a bit of a pickle with this one. The two modules that we did back to back were quite similar in theme so I was a bit concerned that I was going off on a tangent. In the end though what I wanted to do was look at people’s experiences of using webinar technologies as this was something I had responsibility for piloting in my role at Swansea.

Again I went with Phenomenography for this one and again tried to use Nvivo (borrowing a work laptop for that helped) however I still struggled with the analysis. With hindsight, I also wish I had specifically used different methodologies for each of the papers as this would have allowed me to experiment with a variety. The trouble is when you are up against the clock sometimes it ended up being more pragmatic just to go with something that you have done before rather than being brave and learning something new.

I was really happy to find that I had also written some personal reflections at the time of writing. I don’t think I did this on all the assignments ( wish I had !)

This has been an interesting process for me to undertake. Reflecting on my approach to this mini research project I think that there were some things that worked well and others that I would do differently. For example, I think my choice of phenomenography as a methodology worked well in that looking at the range in variation of experiences and conceptions of the use of webinar technologies. This has enabled me to explore the range of different ways that colleagues think that they could be used in their own contexts and has highlighted that a few colleagues may not fully appreciate the capabilities and functions of webinar technologies. Lack of experience would obviously explain this aspect. In terms of things that I could improve upon, I feel I need further experience with using NVIVO and in the visual portrayal of my outcome space as I think this could be displayed in a better way. I also thought that it would be useful to undertake a second research exercise once the Blackboard Collaborate pilot has been underway for a while which would allow me to gauge whether further exposure to the webinar environment may lead to a conceptual change in potential use. I could conduct live interviews via the webinar conference system itself which would provide an authentic experience and may yield richer data.

Baff (2018)

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