Virtual Learning Spaces in Technical Computer Science Subjects: A New Teaching and Learning Paradigm
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Due to the increasing use of the Internet as a delivery mode in education, training and business; the World Wide Web is being used frequently as a distributed learning mechanism to support both distance and on-campus students. Using this delivery technology, teachers can provide a range of resources which enable the use of a variety of learning formats such as discussion forums and chat, multimedia, videoconferencing, and audio to communicate with, and teach their students. These changes in education provide easier access to educational opportunities for students who are located remotely from the university, who are working or who have other constraints such as work and family commitments. However, online learning in Computer Science courses remains challenging for both teachers and students. Research has shown that there is a significant risk factor for technical subjects in Computer Science where retention rates are a problem. Computer Science students studying subjects such as programming, are required to acquire complex conceptual understandings, while learning the highly technical components of a scripting language, which they then must practically implement to solve programming problems and thus produce a program that works Hence, course developers and teachers need to be aware of the particular needs of Computer Science students when establishing online courses, if they wish to graduate successful and satisfied students. This paper will examine some of the technological enablers and barriers to the development of effective online programs and presents some preliminary findings from a much larger Doctorate of Information Technology research study.