An Exploration of Social Learning Behaviors Concerning University Faculty Members’ Use of Learning Management Systems
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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Formal training for faculty members who use Learning Management Systems (LMSs) plays an integral part in helping faculty members learn to use the LMS and its features, but unstructured interactions between faculty members with respect to the LMS have the potential to supplement formal LMS training (Buchanan et al., 2013; Samarawickrema & Stacey, 2007; Vaill & Testori, 2012). Through individual interviews with faculty members who seek out colleagues in informal settings beyond formal LMS training, this exploratory qualitative study described how faculty members form mutually beneficial learning relationships beyond the formal training environment, detailed the reasons for which faculty members seek these relationships, elucidated the processes by which faculty members learn from one another, and explored opportunities to capitalize on unstructured interactions between faculty members to strengthen the impact of classroom-based LMS training. The data gathered from the interviews provided a deeper understanding of the situations where faculty members seek help outside the context of formal training, information about how and why faculty members seek one another for informal assistance, and detailed accounts of how they receive help and assistance in a low-stakes, collegial environment. With such information, it is possible to develop institutional- and departmental-level formal training in a way that spawns mentorships and encourages and facilitates interpersonal interaction. The findings of this study give providers of formal training an avenue for capitalizing on the power of situated and reciprocal learning in the design of new LMS training curricula. Additionally, departments can assist with connecting novice users with experts, and include the discussion of LMS usage as a regular part of meetings. The details revealed by the participants of this study lend credence to the suggestion made by Cochrane et al. (2013) that the most effective faculty learning involves impromptu collaboration and mentorship. More importantly, this study helps fill a major gap in the literature identified by Bailey and Card (2009): it examined the details of interactions between faculty members who teach using an LMS in an effort to provide a basis for future studies on how such interactions can be encouraged in the context of formal training.