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This paper describes the design and delivery of a specialised Online Learning (OL) module in a Postgraduate Diploma in Third Level Learning and Teaching for academic staff at a higher education institute in Ireland. It is designed and delivered online with the WebCT Online Learning Environment using a Problem-based Learning (PBL) approach, with an emphasis on group learning in a real life multi-disciplinary learning environment for the module participants. The aim of the OL/PBL module is to enable the academic staff participants to become aware of the practicalities of developing, co-ordinating, supporting and evaluating an online course in their own subject discipline; but the key to their success will be by using the principles of PBL to share valuable information with their colleagues in a variety of other disciplines. In addition they have the opportunity to develop a range of online materials in WebCT which will support their proposed online module. These include in the first instance, justifying a decision to deliver a course online rather than by conventional face-to-face methods and conducting a training needs analysis. This is followed by the selection of an appropriate structure and mode of supporting the module for a specific target group and producing a plan for its design, development and evaluation. Thereafter, they examine how to design appropriate teaching, learning and assessment strategies and develop online learning materials for delivery within the proposed online module. Finally, developing a cost analysis for the production of the specific online module is included. It is felt that throughout, developing the participants’ ability to reflect on their own and their students' learning through the maintenance of a reflective log is important. The OL/PBL module is delivered online via WebCT with appropriate tutor support and face-to face sessions in order that the participants gain the experience of working and learning online, both individually and in a PBL multidisciplinary group.
Donnelly, R. (2001) Combining an Online and Problem-based Approach: With Learning as the Common Denominator. WebCT's 3rd Annual International Conference, Vancouver, June 23-27,2001.