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An Exploration of How the Facilitator Perceived That Learning Within VLE Discussion Forums is Improved by Facilitator-enhanced Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number3
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/12/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Irish Journal of Academic Practice
Issue number1
Volume7
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Research suggests that facilitator-enhanced collaboration within virtual learning environment (VLE) discussion forums improves learning. A question is therefore posed: “How does the facilitator perceive that learning within VLE discussion forums is improved by facilitator enhanced collaboration?” It is important to answer this question to understand and develop effective collaborative learning within VLE discussion forums supported by facilitators. This phenomenological study explores the lived experience of three facilitators of discussion forums within collaborative VLEs. Data were collected through short written reports of participants’ experiences and through an in-depth semi-structured interview. Both methods involved answering open-ended questions based on participants' experience of facilitating VLE discussion forums. Participants reported positive experiences and findings revealed that facilitator-enhanced collaboration within VLE discussion forums does improve learning. The data collected also suggested that enhanced collaboration was easy to incorporate into their facilitation. A challenge to enhanced collaboration included insufficient training for facilitators. Three themes described the participants’ experiences: a preference to enhance collaboration within discussion forums, a willingness to engage in collaboration in a proactive but non-intrusive way, and a need for setting facilitator expectations as regards student collaboration.