Thursday, December 9, 2010

My paper for AVETRA 2011

So now that I don't have to worry about that potentially disastrous December 3 deadline for The Thesis, I've had time to try to get my research out there in the wider research community. Either I'm a glutton for punishment or am still in denial about enjoying the researcher aspect of my life.

Loosely linked to the scholarship that NCVER awarded me at the beginning of the year, AVETRA have accepted my abstract to present in the peer-reviewed section of their annual conference in 2011! I'm excited about being able to present (albeit in a very compact format) the findings of my research to practitioners and researchers in the field in Australia. Also, the idea of being published is super exciting!

On top of that, NCVER will publish an occasional paper on my research later next year as part of the aforementioned scholarship. It's right about here that I start freaking out a little about the fact that I have to write and produce a document that reads like all those articles I referenced in my thesis this year. eep!

To give you an idea of what I'll be producing over the summer, I've pasted a condensed version of my thesis abstract below. Would love to hear your comments, questions, constructive criticisms etc. and I'll keep you posted on the progress.

An examination of the e-learning experiences of young professionals

This research centres around two main questions. The first examines the current experience of Generation Y with e-learning at work. The second asks what are key elements of e-learning as identified by this group that contribute to successful e-learning experiences. Current literature examines e-learning from learning and technology design, as well as the way e-learning fits within different organizations or industry contexts, but little research has been conducted in Australia on how e-learning can be better used for the emerging generation in the workforce, Gen Y. The project was conducted using a basic interpretive qualitative methodology. Methods used were a web-based survey, semi-structured face-to-face interviews and artefact analysis.

Key findings from the research include three overarching themes that are key in ensuring a positive experience with e-learning for Gen Y employees. These are flexible options, a positive attitude toward learning with technology and applicability of the content to the employees’ immediate context. Other findings included the high number of e-learning courses completed soon after starting work with a new employer and that the majority of participants had completed more than one e-learning course. Overall, most participants in the research identified e-learning as a valuable element in their overall professional development and had a positive attitude toward it.

Implications from the findings include a need for clear communication via policy or internal organizational campaign so that employees understand the reasons for e-learning in their context. E-learning needs to remain dynamic and designers should seek to increase the level of interactivity, customization and control given to learners, particularly young professionals. Moreover, content previously not considered appropriate to be delivered via e-learning should be reassessed in order to avoid a stereotype of e-learning courses developing that only includes compliance based programs.