Developing online from simplicity toward complexity: going with the flow of non-linear learning
Phelps, R 2003, 'Developing online from simplicity toward complexity: going with the flow of non-linear learning', in M Astorino, A Ellis & R Hall (eds), NAWeb 2003: the web-based learning conference, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada, 18-21 October, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada, pp. 73-83.
The Web is a non-linear environment which opens up potential for new approaches to learning and teaching, approaches which in many ways more closely approximate naturalistic and authentic approaches to learning. Yet a large proportion of online courses which have been developed in higher education represent conversions of print-based resources into Web-based delivery formats, the majority of which have replicated traditional linear and directive pedagogy. Such development represents something of a ‘miss-match’, not only to the online teaching environment but to the emergent learning approaches of a younger generation who are ‘at home’ with the online environment. This paper discusses the benefits of maintaining complexity and non-linearity in online learning with reference to the development of one tertiary course in computer education for pre-service teachers. The theory of complexity is briefly explored and its relevance to online teaching and learning is highlighted. An action research undertaking conducted over a four year period is drawn upon to illustrate the importance of future teachers understanding and experiencing non-linear and complexity-based online learning, and the metacognitive processes that can support adult learners to adapt to such an environment.