Why use the online environment with face-to-face students? insights from early adopters

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Learning and Development Services Centre


Regional Development Strategic and Commercial Projects




Bunker, A., & Vardi, I. (2001). Why Use the Online Environment with Face-to-Face Students?: Insights from Early Adopters. In Meeting at the Crossroads: 18th Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. Melbourne, Australia.


This study illustrates the convergence of two teaching and learning media, face-to-face and online, as reflective lecturers seek to address the limitations of a single medium. Innovative university lecturers were interviewed about their use of online environments with face-to-face students. The interview ata revealed a set of problems in the traditional face-to-face situation for which the lecturers sought solutions using the online environment. Three types of problems were identified: a need to improve the access to essential unit information; to increase the amount and quality of student interaction; and to increase student autonomy. The lecturers identified and implemented three strategies for solving these problems. These included using the web to:• Disseminate and collect information and materials; • Mediate student-student interactions; and • Mediate student learning. Whilst the first strategy was successful in increasing access to essential unit information, the second strategy did not necessarily increase the amount or quality of student interaction. It appears that interactivity is dependent on the nature of the learning activity undertaken and lecturers’ competencies in facilitating online learning, independent of the medium in which the task is set. The success of the third strategy involved the redevelopment of a traditional lecturer-dependent course to embrace more student-centred approaches.

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