Authority in virtual education
Keywords:E-learning, Virtual learning, Authority, J.S. Coleman, Case study, Content analysis
AbstractIn the past few decades ITC technologies have begun to penetrate various areas of social life. One of these areas is education. New forms of teaching and learning have appeared – for example, e-learning or virtual learning; this term refers to the specificity of the relationship between teacher and student. The work Authority in virtual education tries to uncover the characteristics of this relationship, which are substantially influenced by communication that excludes face-to-face contact. The author draws on a theoretical analysis (based primarily on the relevant works of Max Weber and JS Coleman), and on this basis she compiled the case study of the e-learning course Multiple Perspectives on Globalisation and Sustainable Development, which was organized by the Charles University Environment Centre. A content analysis was undertaken of the texts that were part of this course and which were published by both teachers and students in the Moodle electronic environment; the functions of this environment were also investigated. This analysis revealed who are the major players in the virtual relationship and thus shows the hidden structure of this relationship – parties in this relationship are considered to be not only the holder of authority (the teacher), the recipient of the authority (student), but also the electronic environment. According to the author, the virtual environment allowed the teacher to function as a partner in relation to the student in the "action" part of the course, and not manage his or her activities in a restrictive way in the course as a whole. Such manifestations of authority are seen as possible thanks to the use of electronic software, which these functions substitute. The environment sets some constraints in which the actions of students can take place; the creation of borders is thus seemingly independent of teachers. To verify the results, the feedback provided by one of the actors is used.
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