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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’.
Harding, Nuala; Cooking online:investigating the effectiveness of providing on-line support material to students on a professional cookery apprenticeship course. Article published in Level3, Issue 2, June 2004.