Teachers' conceptions of and approaches to online teaching

Keith Smyth, Christina Mainka, Norrie Brown

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Building upon a previous exploratory pilot, this paper reports on an ongoing phenomenographic research study that has been conducted within one school at a Scottish University. The focus of the investigation is nursing lecturers' conceptions of and approaches to online teaching. The extensive body of previous phenomenographic research that exists has clearly established that lecturers' preferred approaches to teaching are informed by their conceptions of teaching and learning, but this work has largely related to 'traditional', face-to-face course delivery. Higher education is increasingly coming under pressure, however, to harness online technologies for meeting the demands of a diverse student body with a wide range of IT and online learning skills. Met by academic staff who are still largely new to blended and online learning, and who may be inexperienced in adapting traditional course development and teaching practices for online delivery, the challenge to make effective use of technology in teaching presents something of a dichotomy. Phenomenographic studies such as this one are regarded as providing valuable insight into the variation in understanding and experiencing phenomena. The focus of this study is on capturing the qualitatively different ways in which lecturers understand and approach online teaching, with a view towards providing better insight into their developmental needs. For the investigation, semi-structured interviews were carried out with nursing lecturers (n=20) with a wide range of blended and online teaching experience. An initial set of 'categories of description' has emerged from the first stages of analysis, and this is presented with a preliminary emphasis on conceptions concerning good online teaching practice and challenges for students, as well as on approaches to online teaching related to how the lecturers prepared for and undertook their most recent online course. At this stage of the analysis, findings indicate that the group shows a range of ways in which online teaching is conceptualised and approached. This finding are articulated, before their wider implications for the quality of the online learning experience for students and for staff developmental purposes is discussed. The presentation that accompanies this paper will focus on the outcomes of this initial analysis, as well as on other key findings that emerged from the conclusion of the work.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Event6th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2007 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 4 Oct 20075 Oct 2007


Conference6th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2007


  • Approaches
  • Conceptions
  • Online teaching
  • Phenomenographic research


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