The learning management system as a Bruner amplifier: defining a model of faculty engagements with an online technology
The purpose of this study was to determine if reasonable and reliable models of faculty engagements with an LMS could be constructed, and to determine how attitudes and perceptions of the technology might be reflected in those engagements. The study grew from a desire to understand which LMS components faculty found most and least helpful, how faculty used those components to teach and communicate, and why they used them. A model was developed to aid in understanding how faculty engage with LMS. In order to construct the model, several multiple data sources were used that provided information on tool usage, course design, and attitudes toward/perceptions of an LMS. The model chosen was based upon Jerome Bruner's (1965) amplification systems, which he introduced at the Seventy-Third Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. The model, once constructed, demonstrated how the system amplified the process of teaching, how the instructor was trained to use the system and how the instructor "plugged into" the system. The findings revealed that a usable model of faculty engagement with the technology was possible. It was determined from the model that study participants taught online according to more traditional approaches, that they were trained in a variety of ways to use the system, that they tended to use file manipulation and asynchronous communication tools more than others and that content delivery, course administration and steady, albeit not constant, contact with the students was considered important. Further research is necessary in order to model faculty and student interactions within courses, and in order to help modify or construct a good working theory of teaching and learning online, via an LMS.