Transforming practice through collaboration: A Developmental Work Research based intervention perspective on lecturers' engagement with the VLE Moodle

  • Miriam Mcsweeney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis aims to contribute to understanding the issues that surround the established slow uptake of learning technologies in higher education. The research explores the relationship between social context and the appropriation of the virtual learning environment (VLE) Moodle. The study was conducted at a multi-campus higher education institute in the Republic of Ireland. The empirical basis for this research was defined by a series of Developmental-Work-Research (DWR)-based sessions with a group of participant lecturers over a 12-month period. During this time the participants were facilitated in understanding and subsequently resolving their difficulties in engaging with Moodle. A rich picture emerged of how the lecturers believed that their individualistic and bureaucratic work setting served to inhibit their engagement with technology. The DWRbased Intervention facilitated the lecturers in establishing a collaborative process, during which they formed strong collegial bonds. As a result, a transformation in the lecturers’ thinking became evident, and this enabled them to critically engage with Moodle in their pedagogic practice. The study also revealed how the DWR-based Intervention had wider institutional effects. Critically, these effects were appropriately managed and thus had a significant positive impact, providing valuable insights into the relationship between technology and social context.

During the study data were collected using a variety of methods including individual interviews, video-recorded DWR-based sessions, focus group interview, researcher observations and colleague feedback, both formal and informal. The work conducted in this study makes a number of contributions to research. Firstly, there is a contribution to the use of a socio-cultural approach as a critical perspective on exploring lecturers’ relationship with learning technologies. Secondly, the study contributes to the research literature in the area and to the DWR intervention methodology by way of methodology adaptation and refinement. Finally, the research offers a contribution that aspires to support higher education institutions in understanding the reality and complexity of adopting learning technologies.
Date of Award18 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHarry Daniels (Supervisor), Kyoko Murakami (Supervisor) & Chris James (Supervisor)

Cite this