Peer review of online learning and teaching: Harnessing collective intelligence to address emerging challenges

Denise Wood, Martin Friedel


In 1983 Donald Schon argued for the development of "an epistemology of practice which places technical problem-solving within a broader context of reflective inquiry" (Schon, 1983, p. 69) in response to the complexity, uncertainty and instability of professional knowledge. This paper reports on a collaborative project led by the University of South Australia, which designed and developed a comprehensive, integrated peer review system that harnesses the power of the collaborative web to engage academic staff in the development or redevelopment of their own courses through the kind of reflective processes Schon (1983) advocated. The project builds on extensive work that has been undertaken both within Australia and overseas to support and stimulate the scholarship of online learning and teaching, and it has the capacity to demonstrate quality learning and teaching through course development, evaluation, improvement and interactive learning. Evidence produced through such processes can be used by academic staff as evidence to support claims for recognition and reward. The project has evolved in response to changing technologies and recognition of the need for a more adaptable system that enables academics to play a significant role in the creation of criteria and in contributing their own exemplars using a Web 2.0 approach. A major feature of the approach is its educative dimension, which is responsive to supporting online teaching and learning at a time when new Web 2.0 and 3D virtual learning technologies are presenting new challenges for educators. This paper describes the project and argues that online learning and teaching in this changing landscape is an emerging area of scholarship which needs to be supported and encouraged.

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