Flexibility and interactivity in the context of web-based curriculum : managing change
The research for this thesis involves a case study about the development of a Web-based Curriculum (WBC) in the Institute of Vocational Education of Hong Kong (IVE), abased on a WBC Change Model which provides a research framework emphasizing the importance of managing change in relation to the flexibility and interactivity in the context of the WBC. Previous research studies on Web-based education about its effectiveness on learning outcomes are found to be highly controversial. There is an assertion that the failure to fully use technology in education may be due to academic and technical divide. With regard to this, the study gives a balanced consideration to both educational and technological issues. It shows how the flexibility provided by the addition of WBC contributes to student learning and serves the new needs in the IVE. It also explains how strict control can stifle the growth of the WBC. It is found that human interactions and interactive elements of the WBC are likely to improve student performance as compared with non-human and static elements respectively. The study explores the highly complicated effects of different types of virtual interaction on student learning. The overall effect can be zero or destructive if one or more components dominate the others. If this is the case, the theory of `no-significant difference' prevails but eventually fails to reflect the true picture. The thesis provides further evidence to support the theory of additional learning benefits for different types of interaction on the Web. This research uniquely addresses the distinct characteristics of language barriers for the native Chinese students in Hong Kong especially when the Internet is primarily designed for native English users. Finally, the study explains why and how the failure of the WBC in IVE is related to the curriculum and academic structure. It depicts the conditions to support the development of a unified WBC and illustrates why the educational institutions are slow to respond to technological change. It also identifies those critical success factors related to technology and explains why a mixed strategy on information technology (IT) is suitable for effective implementation of the WBC. The results of this study have significant and far-reaching effects on the formulation of academic policy, organization structure and IT strategy especially for higher and tertiary institutions in Hong Kong.