Werklund School of Education
Leading Education for a Connected World
By Betty Rice, Werklund School of Education
Stephanie Dolsky is a Designing Technology-Rich Collaborative Learning Environments” student in the Werklund School of Education. She’s worked in the field of learning and development more than 30 years, with a focus on adult education, for which she earned a master’s degree (MEd) in 1993.
She took a moment to talk about her education, her career to date, and her aspirations:
“I first became involved in collaborative learning methodologies when I worked for the Edmonton Police Service. There, problem-based learning was used to provide training for new recruits who would be required to solve complex and challenging policing problems through collaboration. This methodology underscored the importance teamwork, data collection, analysis, and the application of knowledge to solve significant real-life policing problems in the community.
At that time, problem-based learning had been used extensively in the field of medicine. I drew upon the work Barrows and Tamblyn (1980) from McMaster University and then contacted medicine faculty from around the world for their feedback on the application of problem-based learning to policing. This provided a powerful learning experience not only for the recruits, but for me as well.
I subsequently worked for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta, where I reviewed the application of problem-based learning there. I processed improvement recommendations to maximize student learning.
More recently, I worked for a multinational company in the process of developing an Enterprise Resource Management System (ERP)—an application that is renowned for its complexity, both in terms of training, implementation and post-implementation challenges. In the capacity of training lead, I designed and developed an end-to-end solution in an attempt to thoughtfully address these challenges. This is a dearth of literature on the methods for addressing the post-implementation system tweaking that is necessary to realize return on investment.
“In the summer session, I completed EDER 679.41 (Issues in Design and Development of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Environments) taught by Gale Parchoma. It focused on issues in the design and development of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments. In that context, I came to appreciate the power of this methodology—and the critical impacts of digital artefacts on learning.
As part of our course requirements involved the development of a design blueprint, a detailed CSCL course plan. The purpose of my CSCL course was to develop a framework for addressing costly post-implementation challenge. Specifically, I developed a 5-day computer-supported collaborative learning program designed to identify and refine company-specific ERP-best practices post-implementation. The course involved leveraging online collaboration features of the learning management system (LMS) that the company had recently purchased upon my recommendation. This method was new to the company and provided the foundation for future collaborative learning that could support knowledge creation—an important competitive asset for business.
My takeaway is that the learning sciences in general, and CSCL specifically, are evolving in ways that are advantage the education sector—but also the business, government and not-for-profit sectors as well. I see CSCL as having broad application.
In the future, I would like to apply my new learning as a consultant to organizations seeking to design and develop creative and effective web-based learning environments.”