Authentic eDesign [EdD Thesis]

Supervisors: Prof. Jan Herrington and Dr. Dorit Maor.
Examination report: All three examiners gave the highest recommendations (strongly agree) on all five criteria used to judge the dissertation.
Examiner comments include:
  • “It is one of the most outstanding thesis I have examined” (Prof. Mike Keppell, Pro-Vice Chancellor – Learning Transformations, Swinburne University of Technology). 
  • “The framework is quite unique and makes a solid and original contribution to both scholarship and research in designing and improving the quality of educational programs” (A/Prof. Catherine McLoughlin, Australian Catholic University, ACT). 
  • “I found the thesis to be very well written…It is a pleasure to read. This is a scholarly work on an important topic”  (Prof. Terry Anderson, Center for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada). 
School of Education prize for Doctor of Education best Doctor of Education dissertation in the past two years
2016 School of Education prize for EdD
Overview of Thesis
This research study employed a design-based research approach to explore how online learning could be improved to provide more interactive and engaging student centered learning experiences for higher education students. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of an online professional development (PD) course based on authentic learning principles supported by new technologies. The purpose of the PD course was to assist higher education practitioners how to apply an authentic learning framework to a new or existing online course.
Design-based research approach
Phase 1 – Analysis
Literature reviews and consultations with practitioners in the field helped clarify some of the issues practitioners face for creating interactive and engaging online learning experiences. Creating an online professional development course where participants are given the opportunity to consider a variety of online pedagogies, explore a range of web-based technologies, experience online learning from a learners perspective and network with their peers was identified as a possible solution for assisting practitioners to develop the required skills and knowledge to create more engaging online courses.

Research question: Can immersing higher education practitioners in an authentic learning environment assist them to create more interactive and engaging online learning experiences within a learning management system?

Phase 2 – Design and develop
As participants progress through the course they learn a range of concepts and skills as they complete an authentic task. The task is to redesign one of their existing online courses, or an existing face-to-face course that they would like to put online, using the authentic learning model.
Phase 3 – Implement and evaluate
Three iterations of the course were implemented. After each iteration feedback from the participants and the facilitator was analysed and recommendations for improving the course were implemented before each subsequent iteration.
Phase 4 – Report and disseminate
The research findings will endeavour to inform theory and offer a new perspective to the field of education for developing effective online learning environments across the university sector.