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Theme: Strategies and innovations in teaching and learning

Fostering learning-to-learn skills in first year computer science students in a Web-based environment

Catherine McLoughlin
Teaching and Learning Centre
The University of New England
David Miron and Mary O'Sullivan
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
The University of New England

In the design of online teaching environments for first year students, considerable attention has been paid to the nature of the interface and to the streamlining of activities for learner engagement. Much less attention has been given to the nature of the support system that is provided for novice users learning online. Support systems are essential for first year students to help them to engage in the processes of learning and to develop the skills of learning-to-learn. It is also imperative that a range of support systems be put in place to enable learners to become competent in learning online, and to learn to interact in a virtual environment. Such skills are now recognised as part of the lifelong learning competencies or generic attributes that universities seek to develop in their graduates. In this paper we offer a theoretical and pragmatic rationale for the development of support structures for online learning, which comprises both resources that learners can access in order to achieve learning outcomes and supports for communicative and cognitive processes. Examples of support features are drawn from a first year computer science unit offered at the University of New England.

Full Paper in MS Word

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