Identifying Effective Pedagogical Approaches for Online Workplace Training: A case study of the South African wood products manufacturing sector


  • Iain S. Macdonald University of British Columbia
  • Mark Bullen British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • Robert Kozak University of British Columbia



e-learning, pedagogy, constructivism, workplace learners, corporate training, learning activities


This study investigated appropriate pedagogical techniques for workplace e-learning programs in the South African wood products (furniture) manufacturing sector. The study found that learners responded favourably to constructivist teaching approaches, such as asynchronous discussions, open-ended task-based activities, and assignments incorporating authentic, real-world examples. Learners viewed constructivist activities to be more useful than quizzes and traditional essay-based assignments, as they allowed new concepts to be learned in context and were perceived to promote deeper understanding of the subject matter. Nevertheless, they valued the inclusion of a blend of pedagogical approaches in the course design, as this enabled them to approach and analyze new concepts in an assortment of ways. Learners placed importance on regular interaction with other learners and course instructors, and were strongly in favour of including face-to-face components in Web-based courses.

Author Biographies

Iain S. Macdonald, University of British Columbia

Iain Macdonald is the Managing Director of the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing at The University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada. He holds a Master of Science degree from UBC and has managed the development of a wide variety of e-learning courses for both undergraduates and lifelong learners. He is currently leading a major project to assist two African universities with the creation of a suite of online courses. He is a specialist in industry training and education, and participates in several regional and national committees on workforce skills development.

Mark Bullen, British Columbia Institute of Technology

Dr. Mark Bullen is the Associate Dean of the Learning & Teaching Centre at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) where his main areas of responsibility are curriculum and instructor development and educational research and innovation. Before joining BCIT in 2005, Dr. Bullen was involved in managing, developing, and researching distance education at the University of British Columbia, where he held the positions of Director of the Centre for Managing & Planning E-Learning (MAPLE) and Associate and Acting Director of the Distance Education & Technology department. He has extensive international experience related to online course development and the planning and management of e-learning. He is an adjunct Professor in the UBC Master of Educational Technology program and in the Athabasca University Master of Distance Education program.

Robert Kozak, University of British Columbia

Dr. Robert Kozak’s research and teaching interests revolve around sustainable business management practices and issues and providing business solutions to complex problems related to sustainable development, forestry, wood products, and the emerging conservation economy. His current research interests include value-added wood processing strategies, forest certification, supply chain management, corporate social responsibility, marketing and consumer behaviour, and the role of education in the wood products sector.



How to Cite

Macdonald, I. S., Bullen, M., & Kozak, R. (2007). Identifying Effective Pedagogical Approaches for Online Workplace Training: A case study of the South African wood products manufacturing sector. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 8(3).



Research Articles