Contexts of Learning: The PATOIS project and Internet-based teaching and learning in Higher Education

William Kilbride1, Kate Fernie2, Pete McKinney3 and Julian D. Richards4

1User Services Manager, 2Research Officer, 4Director: all at the Archaeology Data Service; 3HATII
William Kilbride; Kate Fernie; Julian D.Richards; Pete McKinney

Cite this as: W. Kilbride et al. 2002 'Contexts of Learning: The PATOIS project and Internet-based teaching and learning in Higher Education', Internet Archaeology 12.


This article is a reflection on the problems, challenges and strengths of network-based distance learning in archaeology. Based on the experience of one project - the PATOIS (Publications and Archives Teaching with Online Information Systems) Project - it looks at how archaeologists might best respond (and by implication how they ought not to respond) to the use of information technology in teaching.

The PATOIS project is an attempt on behalf of a consortium of UK higher education institutions and allied research bodies to tell students about the information tools that are emerging in archaeology, and which are changing the culture of scholarship. Funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and led by the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), PATOIS presents students with these new research tools and novel forms of academic literacy by direct exposure to 'primary' datasets. The PATOIS project is producing a set of Internet-based tutorials that lead students through different datasets and show how they may be deployed in research. This article describes the institutional and intellectual background to the project, and reports on the content of the tutorials themselves. Perhaps more importantly, it looks at the process through which PATOIS was developed, reviewing the challenges and constraints that the development team faced. Thereafter, we turn to the implementation of PATOIS in real teaching scenarios and look at how and when these have been successful as well as the challenges that remain unanswered. The project is not yet complete, so at this stage we can come to no firm conclusions about the long-term impact of PATOIS in facilitating change in undergraduate research training. Nonetheless, from the perspective of development work, the project has largely been completed, so those conclusions that may be drawn are most appropriately addressed to developers hoping or planning to undertake similar work in the future, or academics looking to develop research skills among their students. Reflecting the experience of one computer-based learning project, this article provides thoughtful guidance and advice that will be relevant to anyone interested in developing online teaching and learning resources.

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Last updated: Mon Sep 23 2002

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