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In early 2001, a new Postgraduate Diploma in Third Level Learning and Teaching was launched for lecturers from a range of higher education institutions in the Republic of Ireland. This paper describes ongoing research undertaken for the re-design of one module out of the eight offered on the Postgraduate Diploma: the Online Learning (OL) Module delivered using the pedagogical strategy of Problem-based Learning (PBL). This Postgraduate Diploma is entirely voluntary and only lecturers who are keen to implement novel pedagogical approaches in their own subject disciplines apply for a place on the modules. The aim of the OL/PBL module is to enable the participants to become aware of the practicalities of designing, delivering, supporting and evaluating an online module in their own subject discipline; over the two years of the module’s existence, there have been a wide variety of subject disciplines represented. The key to any participant’s success had been envisaged occurring through using the principles of PBL to share valuable information and collaborate with colleagues from a variety of other disciplines. However, two years further on it became clear to the designer/tutor that a conflict existed between the individual’s right to learn online in their own time and at their own pace, and the obvious benefits of interacting with peers in a problem-based learning group.
Donnelly, R. (2003) An Online Dilemma: The pull of individuality pitched against peer collaboration in an online problem-based learning group. ED-MEDIA World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, Hawaii, USA, June 23-28, 2003.