Replacing the Nods and Smiles: Raising Questions about Philosophy and Pedagogy in a Predominantly Web-based Master’s Module


  • Mavis Haigh University of Auckland
  • Margaret Turnbull University of Auckland


social presence, transactional distance


This paper discusses the student and lecturer experience of a Master of Education module taught through the World Wide Web and with study guides. It explores the wide range of responses to questions about students' perceptions of the philosophy that underpinned the pedagogical approach, the structure and content of the module, the effectiveness of the communication systems, and the IT service/support for the module. Based on these responses, we have asked some questions about how we might maintain our principles but alter our pedagogy in order to lessen transactional distance and increase social presence given our inability to engage in the nods and smiles that accompanied our face-to-face approach.

Author Biographies

Mavis Haigh, University of Auckland

Mavis Haigh is Head of Postgraduate
Programmes in the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland, where she lectures in teachers’ professional learning and supervises masters’ and doctoral research students. She lectured in science education, professional inquiry, and research methods at the former Auckland College of Education, where she was
Head of Centre for Practicum. She has taught extensively in New Zealand secondary schools.

Margaret Turnbull, University of Auckland

Margaret Turnbull was until recently a
principal lecturer in the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland. For the last five years she worked in the area of postgraduate studies and was involved in the redevelopment of two existing master’s papers into WebCT mode. She retired from academic work in
December 2006.