International Education Journal


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Can we Leave it to Chance? New Learning Technologies and the Problem of Professional Competence

Dr Neil Anderson
James Cook University, Cairns Campus, Queensland, Australia

Dr Colin Baskin
James Cook University, Cairns Campus, Queensland, Australia




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This paper describes two different university and school collaborations featuring teachers' and students' use of online environments. The first example involves a classroom application of a Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver a Year 8 Studies of Society Unit on 'Rainforests'. This example serves to capture, bracket and examine the ways in which teachers have begun to redefine teaching practice, and to document the ways in which students experience this change in teaching. The second example documents feedback from a formal hands-on professional development program for teachers where follow up support was offered on-line, using the same LMS.

Data presented here suggest that the on-line environment is not a panacea for better teaching and learning outcomes. Example one identifies the means by which the on-line environment is able to stimulate effective learning exchange, yet signposts to the teacher the ways in which the emerging ICT classroom will challenge the technology, logistics, organisation and delivery competencies of many teachers. In example two, technology is painted as a catalyst to other elements of school reform. In both examples, the value of the on-line environment lies in its capacity to enable our collaborative knowledge about teaching and learning to interact so that each becomes a structuring, and constitutive resource for the other.

ICT in the classroom, online teaching and learning, university-school collaboration

Neil Anderson is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at JCU, Cairns Campus and has particular interests in equity issues and ICT, online learning and joint university, industry, community and government partnerships. He is currently involved in five joint projects involving partners such as Queensland Health, Dept of Innovation and Information Economy, Education Queensland, Cairns Consortium of Schools and the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group. These projects range from the $5.5 'Island Watch Digital Network' to improve the telecommunications infrastructure of the Torres Strait Region and to facilitate training and research in ICT use to the 'Rural and Remote ICT Stars' project to encourage female students to take consider ICT careers. More details can be found on his staff page at

Colin Baskin is currently coordinator of Teaching Development at James Cook University and adjunct lecturer with the School of Education. He joined James Cook after seven years with the School of Management at Griffith University Logan campus, workin also at the Nathan campus and (through partnership arrangements) Christchurch College of Education (NZ). As well as publishing a management textbook with Prentice Hall and partner CD ROM with Pearson Education, he has been active over many years in the piloting and development of flexible learning initiatives to support academic staff to extend their teaching practices into flexible and resource-based environments. He has an extensive background in business education, consultancy, and training and development, and his research interests lie in workplace literacy, textually mediated communities of practice, process management and action learning.


Anderson, N. and Baskin, C. (2002)Can we Leave it to Chance? New Learning Technologies and the Problem of Professional Competence. International Education Journal, 3 (3), 126-137.

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