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  • Factors influencing academics’ development of interactive

    multimodal technology-mediated distance higher education courses

    Dawn Birch

    B.Bus, M.Bus, M.Ed

    Faculty of Education

    DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION

    FEBRUARY 2008

  • KEY WORDS

    academics, distance education, educational technology, interactive, interactivity,

    learning modalities, learning styles, multimedia, multimodal, multiple

    representations, technology-mediated

    i

  • ABSTRACT

    Advances in technology and the continued emergence of the Web as a major source

    of global information have encouraged tertiary educators to take advantage of this

    growing array of resources and move beyond traditional face-to-face and distance

    education correspondence modes toward a rich technology-mediated learning

    environment. Moreover, ready access to multimedia at the desk-top has provided an

    opportunity for educators to develop flexible, engaging and interactive learning

    resources, incorporating multimedia and hypermedia. This study investigates

    pedagogical, individual and institutional factors influencing the adoption and

    integration of educational technology by academics at a regional Australian

    university, for the purpose of developing interactive multimodal technology-

    mediated distance education courses. These courses include a range of multimodal

    learning objects and multiple representations of content in order to cater for different

    learning styles and modal preferences. The findings of this study revealed that a

    range of pedagogical, individual and institutional factors influence academics’

    development of interactive multimodal technology-mediated distance education

    courses. Implications for distance education providers and individual academics

    arising from these factors and subsequent recommendations are presented.

    ii

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    KEY WORDS…………………………………………………………………………………i ABSTRACT............................................................................................................................. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS........................................................................................................ iii

    STATEMENT OF ORIGINAL AUTHORSHIP ........................................................... ix ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................ x

    Chapter One: ........................................................................................................................... 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................... 1

    1.1 Background and context of the study............................................................. 2 1.1.1 The impact of technology on distance education........................................... 2 1.1.2 The institutional context for the study ........................................................... 3 1.1.3 The emergence of the interactive multimodal technology-mediated course at USQ 4

    1.2 Significance of the research ........................................................................... 6 1.3 Research question and issues ......................................................................... 8 1.4 Research methods .......................................................................................... 9 1.5 The role of the researcher ............................................................................ 11 1.6 Contributions of the research ....................................................................... 12 1.7 Structure of the thesis .................................................................................. 13

    Chapter Two........................................................................................................................... 15 LITERATURE REVIEW ...................................................................................................... 15

    2.1 The transformation of distance education.................................................... 17 2.1.1 The development of interactive multimodal technology-mediated distance education courses ...................................................................................................... 20

    2.2 The adoption and integration of educational technology............................. 22 2.3 Institutional factors influencing academics’ adoption and integration of

    educational technology ................................................................................ 25 2.3.1 Institutional motivations .............................................................................. 25 2.3.2 Institutional enablers.................................................................................... 27 2.3.3 Institutional barriers ..................................................................................... 30

    2.4 Individual factors influencing academics’ adoption and integration of educational technology ................................................................................ 34

    2.4.1 Pragmatic motivators and inhibitors ............................................................ 34 2.4.2 Opportunistic motivators and inhibitors ...................................................... 37 2.4.3 Personal motivators and inhibitors............................................................... 39

    2.5 Pedagogical factors influencing academics’ adoption and integration of educational technology ................................................................................ 44

    2.5.1 Catering for diverse learning styles ............................................................. 45 2.5.2 Providing multiple representations of information ...................................... 47 2.5.3 Gaining greater student engagement and interactivity and improving student learning outcomes ..................................................................................................... 48 2.5.4 Encouraging higher-order thinking and active student learning.................. 49 2.5.5 Facilitating a constructivist approach .......................................................... 50 2.5.6 Improving instructional design and curriculum........................................... 51

    2.6 Factors relevant to the development of interactive multimodal technology- mediated distance education courses ........................................................... 54

    2.7 Provisional research framework .................................................................. 55 2.8 Summary...................................................................................................... 57

    iii

  • Chapter Three......................................................................................................................... 58 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY........................................................................................... 58

    3.1 Research methodology: Case study design.................................................. 59 3.1.1 Qualitative research ..................................................................................... 60 3.1.2 Exploratory case study................................................................................. 60 3.1.3 Single case study.......................................................................................... 61 3.1.4 Intrinsic case study....................................................................................... 62

    3.2 Research method: Multiple sources of evidence.......................................... 63 3.2.1 Interviews..................................................................................................... 64 3.2.2 Document analysis....................................................................................... 68 3.2.3 Artefact analysis .......................................................................................... 69 3.2.4 Self-reflective personal narrative................................................................. 69

    3.3 Interview protocol and procedures............................................................... 70 3.4 Selection of participants............................................................................... 73 3.5 Data analysis method ................................................................................... 76

    3.5.1 Validity, generalisability and reliability of the results................................. 78 3.6 Ethical considerations .................................................................................. 80 3.7 Limitations of case study research............................................................... 80 3.8 Summary...................................................................................................... 82

    Chapter Four .......................................................................................................................... 83 PEDAGOGICAL FACTORS ................................................................................................ 83

    4.1 What is an interactive multimodal technology-mediated distance education course? ......................................................................................................... 85

    4.2 Overview of ped