happy to say that I passed my PhD exam on “The Moodle-Cyberschool – Blended Learning as a didactically-innovative approach or pedagogical flash in the pan” (in German) with high distinction – sorry for showing off!
Here’s the abstract:
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The Moodle-Cyberschool in foreign language lessons – Blended Learning as a didactically-innovative approach or pedagogical flash in the pan?
(PhD thesis, Vienna University, Department for Roman Studies, 2010)
This doctoral thesis deals with the methodological approach of Blended Learning (i.e. mixing regular lesssons with E-Learning sequences) in foreign language lessons by using the learning management system Moodle. Providing practical examples taken from Italian lessons (upper secondary level) in a Viennese grammar school, it will be tried to explicitly emphasize the advantages and efficiency of Blended Learning for foreign language lessons. Nevertheless, obvious obstacles and problems concerning the application of this method will be discussed.
After the discussion of theoretical terminology, the main part of this thesis is dedicated to the practical use of new learning technologies at schools. One defined aim is to highlight existing, frequently applied methods in foreign language teaching and to find cross-references to the newest insights in the field of media pedagogy. Apart from the didactical versatility of Moodle-integrated tools, chapter „Web 2.0“ seeks to underline the great extensive potential of the platform including the didactical purpose of Web 2.0 tools in foreign language lessons.
The final part discusses the use of the Moodle platform at the AHS Heustadelgasse and its ideological and political components concerning Blended Learning.
Despite many statements that „E-Learning is dead“, the immense relevance of the use of new learning technologies and learning platforms can be proven due to political initiatives on a national and global level trying to increase ICT competence and knowledge of Blended Learning. The constant ideological use of Moodle in the Austrian school system stresses the „Zeitgeist“ of this doctoral thesis.
Apart from setting up proper scientific approaches, like „the learning optimized symbiosis“ (i.e. optimized learning outcome for individuals due to the use of Moodle) or „multi-perspective linking“ (use of Web 2.0 Tools increases the didactical potential of Moodle), this thesis provides insights in the field of a practically and theoretically possible use of Moodle in foreign language lessons and tries to emphasize that successful working procedures with Moodle are not based on technical competence but on didactical talent. Furthermore, the concept of „hierarchic de-verticalization of the classroom habitat“ will be presented in order to present the shift from the teacher as a knowledge communicator to the teacher as a supportive coach – a communicative collaborator.
The insights of this thesis might be used for a partial re-adjustment of a classic and conventional teaching concept in the field of eLearning since some approaches for a methodological conceptualization of Blended Learning scenarios have been practically applied and reflected. However, the presented methodological innovations require some re-thinking of the current predominant role of the teacher in (Austrian) classrooms.