About Level3
Search archives
- June 2007
- August 2006
- May 2005
- June 2004
- November 2003
DIT Home

Read postings about this article   |   Post a comment about this article  |  print this article [pdf]

Cooking online - Investigating the effectiveness of providing on-line support material to students on a professional cookery apprenticeship course

Author - Nuala Harding


Show/ hide article menu (click icons opposite)


‘Teaching through new technology will inevitably change the way subjects are taught’.
(Laurillard, 1993)

Having worked as a lecturer for five years, I was given the opportunity to undertake the postgraduate diploma in third-level learning and teaching at the Dublin Institute of Technology. The elective I chose as part of this course was online learning. The requirement to compile a reflective journal during the module has provided the catalyst for me to write this paper. This Paper describes work in progress for proposed research within the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Studies in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). The purpose of this research is to investigate the feasibility of providing and the effectiveness of online course materials for students following the day-release apprenticeship programme in professional cookery. At present students are required to attend college full-time for six weeks in a 30-week course. For the remainder, students are required to attend college one day per week. The group comes from diverse geographical locations, therefore it is expected that the provision of a blended learning environment will enhance student learning. As Crook describes it, ‘Computer networking invites the fragmentation of education provision such that it can be distributed in both time and space. The virtual learner will have no need to congregate in set places and set times’ (Steeples and Jones 2002). In addition Crook also suggests that ‘students linked by a common computer network are empowered to interact with their peers and their tutors through this infrastructure’.

It is envisaged that the research methodology to be used will be action research, which may include characteristics of the case study approach. ‘Action research is deliberate, solution-oriented investigation that is group or personally owned and conducted. It is characterized by spiralling cycles of problem identification, systematic data collection, reflection, analysis, data-driven action taken, and, finally, problem redefinition. The linking of the terms "action" and "research" highlights the essential features of this method: trying out ideas in practice as a means of increasing knowledge about and/or improving curriculum, teaching, and learning.

Need for proposed research

The use of and access to communication and information technology has increased dramatically over the past decade. Students are becoming more proficient in their computer skills and are expecting to use this technology as an integral part of their course material. The Athlone Institute of Technology Strategic Plan (2003) states that the institute intends to engage fully with new methods of teaching and learning and in particular to deliver courses by e-learning and distance-learning mode, with the use of a blended-learning approach. Students would attend practical and theory classes as required by the syllabus, but in addition would have further course materials and discussion fora available to them to enhance their learning. Research by Colin Agnew (2003) into the effectiveness of providing online resources for electrical apprentices indicated that students found ‘the online module was a useful resource’ also concluded ‘it is important to link the learning situation to the needs and motives of the learner’ thereby suggesting that relevance is an essential consideration when designing the course materials.

Benefits of Proposed Research

Alexander and McKenzie summarised the benefits to students engaging in successful online courses as the following:

· Improves quality of learning
· Improved productivity of learning
· Improved access to learning
· Improved student attitudes to learning.

The Apprenticeship course normally attracts students, who are highly motivated, therefore it is expected that the provision of an additional learning environment, which will allow them access to their fellow students and thereby enhance the student centred approach.