Research papers


Research Papers
Cross-institutional peer observation by online tutors: Sharing practice ‘outside the family’
Walker, R. & Forbes, D. (2017) Walker, R. & Forbes, D. (2017). Cross-institutional peer observation by online tutors: Sharing practice ‘outside the family’. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, January 2017. ISSN 1470-3297 (Print). 1470-3300 (Online).
Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14703297.2017.1281751
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2017.1281751
While increasingly widespread, teaching online can be a solo endeavour. In this paper we consider how peer exchange between online tutors from different institutions may offer a solution to this professional isolation. We report on a cross-institutional peer observation and mentoring programme between the Universities of York (UK) and Waikato (New Zealand), designed to support tutors’ personal development through online peer exchange. Our findings reveal that tutors’ use of synchronous conferencing tools was influential in shaping the relationship between participants on the programme. Exposure to diversity served to challenge institutional pedagogical norms. We review the engagement strategies and emergent learning outcomes for participants, and discuss the necessary conditions of openness and commitment for effective peer exchange between online tutors from different cultural and institutional contexts.

Click here to view the paper: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14703297.2017.1281751 (Web Site)

Designing for Learner Engagement with Computer-based Testing
Walker, R & Handley, Z. (2016) Walker, R. & Handley, Z. (2016). Designing for learner engagement with computer-based testing. Research in Learning Technology, v.24 dec. 2016. ISSN 2156-7077.
Available at: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/30083
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v24.30083
The issues influencing student engagement with high-stakes computer-based exams were investigated, drawing on feedback from two cohorts of international MA Education students encountering this assessment method for the first time. Qualitative data from surveys and focus groups on the students’ examination experience were analysed, leading to the identification of engagement issues in the delivery of high-stakes computer-based assessments.The exam combined short-answer open-response questions with multiple-choice-style items to assess knowledge and understanding of research methods. The findings suggest that engagement with computer-based testing depends, to a lesser extent, on students’ general levels of digital literacy and, to a greater extent, on their information technology (IT) proficiency for assessment and their ability to adapt their test-taking strategies, including organisational and cognitive strategies, to the online assessment environment. The socialisation and preparation of students for computer-based testing therefore emerge as key responsibilities for instructors to address, with students requesting increased opportunities for practice and training to develop the IT skills and test-taking strategies necessary to succeed in computer-based examinations. These findings and their implications in terms of instructional responsibilities form the basis of a proposal for a framework for Learner Engagement with e-Assessment Practices.

Click here to view the paper (Web Site)

Peer Observation for Online Distance Learning Tutors: Creating the Conditions for Effective Peer Exchange
Walker, R. (2015) Walker, R. (2015). Peer observation for online distance learning tutors: creating the conditions for effective peer exchange. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. First published: 19 February 2015. http://www.eurodl.org/?p=current&abstract=668
This article explores how online distance learning tutors working within a higher education context may be supported in their professional development through participation on an institutional peer observation programme. Drawing on the reflections of participants from two cohorts (2011 and 2012) at the University of York, the article reviews the learning outcomes arising from the peer observation process and investigates the necessary conditions for fostering critical reflection on practice between tutors. Feedback from participants highlighted the importance of investing time in relationship-building at the outset of the process – a necessary first step before free-ranging and critical exchanges can flourish between partners. Pairings which invested time at this stage appeared to develop greater levels of trust, enabling them to probe their tutoring practices in a more critical way and explore areas of perceived weakness as well as tackling emergent themes in their dialogue. These observations have informed the development of a guidance framework for peer exchange at the University of York, which is summarised in the concluding part of this paper.

Click here to download the Peer Observation paper (380K PDF)

Blended problem-based learning: designing collaboration opportunities for unguided group research through the use of Web 2.0 tools
Walker, R. (2014) In V. Hodgson, D. McConnell, M. de Laat & T. Ryberg (eds.) The Design, Experience and Practice of Networked Learning, (chapter 9, pp.165 -182). Springer International Publishing: New York..
This chapter explores the challenges of designing a networked approach to problem based learning, encouraging students to engage in collaborative and interdependent learning online. The chapter reports on a blended design for a postgraduate law programme following a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum, which introduced group wiki and blogging tools for students to use in a series of unguided group research activities. Following a face-to-face PBL session where participants were presented with a new problem and brainstormed learning outcomes and tasks as a framework to solve it, the virtual tools were then employed to support discussion and sharing of research outside the classroom, leading to the production of a collaborative solution by the group.Click here to access the chapter in full (2.81 MB DOCX)
Instructional Design for Class-Based and Computer-Mediated Learning: Creating the Right Blend for Student-Centred Learning
Walker, R, & Baets, W. (2008) In R. Donnelly & F. McSweeney (Eds.), Applied E-Learning and E-Teaching in Higher Education (pp. 241 – 261). Information Science Reference: New York.
Blended learning occupies a prominent place within higher education teaching strategies, yet there is no clear definition for what we mean by this term as an instructional approach. In this chapter we present a working definition for blended learning that is based around a learner-centred framework, and outline three instructional models for blended course design in support of student-centred learning. We discuss the reception of these models by students and their relevance to Net Generation learners in promoting socially active learning through collaboration and experience sharing. Drawing together the lessons learned from a series of course experiments, we present an instructional framework for course designers, focusing on the key phases in the delivery of a blended course and the accompanying instructional responsibilities which underpin this instructional approach.
Effecting institutional change through e-learning: An implementation model for VLE deployment at the University of York
Beastall, L. & Walker R. (2006) Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change, Vol. 3:3, pp 285-299.
This paper offers a description of an implementation model for e-learning and organisational change, which is currently being employed at the University of York, UK. Discussion focuses on the need for effective project management and an approach to change management that is flexible and able to vary in pace according to the needs of the individual staff, students and departments. The York approach involves a four year cycle of pilot projects and evaluation, culminating in a full availability roll out in 2008/9. This work in progress concludes provisionally that successful change management relies on clear strategic ‘top down’ management combined with ‘bottom up’ active involvement in order to successfully implement sustainable change that is pedagogically sound, yet retains a clear focus on the needs of the students.
Supporting and Enabling Video Use – Feature article in BUFVC ‘Viewfinder’ magazine
Julie Allinson, Wayne Britcliffe & Anthony Leonard (2010) Viewfinder, June 2010 No. 79, pp 9-11.
The storage and delivery of video content in education is continually subject to the push pull of technology and resource allocation. Julie Allinson, Wayne Britcliffe and Anthony Leonard (University of York) desribe some of the latest ways in which they manage their video content – from creation to access.The BUFVC are the British Universities Film and Video Council. BUFVC Website entry for Viewfinder No. 79
Addressing Issues of Plagiarism in the First YearEasing Cultural Transition Through Peer-to-Peer Interaction
Katy Mann, Julie Usher and Zoe Devlin (2010) Supporting the First Year Student Experience Through the use of Learning Technologies, pp 29 and pp 48-49.
Two separate case studies appearing in a publication published by Middlesex Univeristy and the The Higher Education Academy. The publication was edited by Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou and Deeba Parmar on behalf of the ELFYSE special interest group.”Addressing Issues of Plagiarism in the First Year” outlines an initiative combining face-to-face workshops and online resources for independent study, including access to text matching software (TurnItIn).”Easing Cultural Transition Through Peer-to-Peer Interaction” describes an initiative aimed at providing support for International Students as they move to a new academic culture and a new local environment.
Recorded Lectures
Dr Richard Walker Blended Learning Recorded Lecture Series
A series of recorded lectures on blended learning design at the University of York, which has been developed in partnership with Blackboard Inc.

The lectures run through the scoping and planning stages in developing a blended course. The presentations focus on the University’s training methods in supporting staff in course development tasks and offer examples of good practice in blended learning design across the University.

The lectures were released in April 2011 and are available at http://bbbb.blackboard.com/LP=95?elqCampaignId=45.The micro-site is a joint initiative between Blackboard and the E-Learning Development Team.

For further details on the lecture series, please contact Dr Richard Walker: richard.walker@york.ac.uk