Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Business Honours

School

School of Business

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Llandis Barratt-Pugh

Abstract

There is a growing necessity in today's globalised and dynamic business environments for learning systems to be capable of generating the continuous learning needs of the workforces within them. In adapting to their changing environments learning workers are not only required to continuously gather new information but also to transform it into understanding within their local contexts. Much praise has been placed on the capability of new learning technologies such as online learning in supporting organisations learning processes. However, relative limited research has been undertaken on how these new learning technologies support workers in learning processes, how these new learning technologies are implemented and operate within organisational contexts, and the nature of the learning subsequently generated. This study explores how workplace learning contexts mediate the processes of learning (Garrick, 1998 p.69) and improve understanding on how this affects the implementation of Online learning. Many organisations have promoted Online Learning for its capability in providing a seemingly unlimited information source; flexible access, cost effectiveness and functionality (Schreiber & Berge, 1998). This study suggests that leaning outcomes generated by online learning practices, rather than being primarily correlated with the capabilities of the technology, are mediated by organisations' learning agendas, learning culture and learning context. This exploratory study acknowledges this view and focuses on how the active nature of learners' constructs and the local context in which learning occurs affects the outcomes of learning generated. This study focuses upon a case study at the West Australian Department of Planning and Infrastructure of (DPI) and applies Jonassen's (2000) principle, that the values and beliefs of the forces controlling the technology determines if it is used to transmit or to transform knowledge. The study's parameters are guided by a theoretical framework adapted from McKenna's (1999) "Meta-Learning Process" and a qualitative methodology protocol described by Yin (1994). The perceptions of a cross section of organisational members at the DPI are used to improve understanding of the mediating relationships involved in the dialects of learning at the DPI. The three main conclusions drawn from the research are that: first, despite the capabilities of the technology to facilitate a range of learning outcomes, the findings indicate that perceived online learning outcomes at the DPI mirror the learning goals imposed by its current organisational learning agenda. Secondly, the findings indicate that local discourses of leadership, culture, structure and strategy reinforce the learning values and beliefs imposed by the learning agenda. Thirdly, the findings indicate that the mediating relationship between learning agenda and the role of online learning technology has prioritised Compliance orientated organisational learning goals and Transmissive learning approaches. In conclusion, the study indicates that the current learning agenda is part of the cultural pattern and a prisoner of that pattern.

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