Landscape without bearings: Instructors' first experiences in Web-based synchronous environments

Elizabeth Murphy, Justyna Ciszewska-Carr


This paper presents the accounts of eight instructors’ metaphorical travels in landscapes without bearings. The instructors were part of a pilot project at a Canadian university involving the integration of a synchronous communication and collaboration environment into asynchronous distance education courses. To establish their bearings, the instructors need to be aware of their goals and combine them with strategies and techniques that effectively manage the affordances and constraints of the environment. That process may require a degree of risk–taking combined with a willingness to help students lead themselves. It requires developing a proficiency in the simultaneous use of multiple tools and recognizing the differences and similarities between Web–based synchronous environments and face–to–face or asynchronous environments. Above all, it requires an interest in and focus on pedagogy.

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