Dr Dianne L Forbes

Dianne Forbes

Senior Lecturer


Distance Learning; Education Research; E-Learning; Leadership; Learning; Pedagogy; Teacher Education; Teaching and Learning; Teaching Ethics and Professionalism; Teaching Online; Tertiary Education

Digital Learning

Qualifications: EdD University of Waikato Master of Educational Management University of Auckland Diploma of Teaching Dunedin College of Education Bachelor of Arts (Hons) University of Otago

Papers Taught

About Dianne

My background is as a Primary School Teacher and Assistant Principal. I have worked in schools in Auckland, and my interests as a classroom teacher revolved around special needs and gifted and talented education, and the integration of ICT with teaching and learning. At the turn of the century, I had the good fortune to teach in a Digital Class, where there was a ratio of one computer to every two children. It was here that my eyes were opened to the tremendous possibilities for rich, creative learning afforded by ICT, when integrated in a purposeful and reflective manner.
Teaching online is my passion and I work to combine my research interests with my teaching practice. My Masters study was in the area of educational leadership. I started my Doctoral work with a focus on formative interaction in online classes, examining the ways that feedback and interaction in online classes can be used to enhance learning. I combined my interests in educational leadership and online teaching and learning by considering leadership as capacity building in elearning. I have a longstanding interest in asynchronous online discussion and its potential for rich learning, and have explored this via experimentation with guests in online discussion, including children and experts in various fields, online debate and role play. More recent experiments have involved teaching and learning through social media.

Research Supervised

I supervise research at masters and doctoral level, from directed studies (preferably as a cohort), to dissertations, masters theses and PhD theses. I also supervise and teach in the EdD programme.

Research Interests

Since completing my doctorate in 2013 my research has broadened across disciplines and international borders. My research agenda is aligned with the scholarship of teaching and learning, underpinned by sociocultural theorising, with ethnographic and phenomenographic methodologies. My primary interests are the human, social and relational dimensions of learning through digital technologies, including ethics and professionalism. I study innovative pedagogies, from low-tech asynchronous forum discussions, to podcasts, video, social media and flipped/blended learning.  A consistent focus of my work is the perspectives and experiences of students and teachers as participants in digital learning. One example of this is my thesis, which has been downloaded from Waikato Research Commons more than 1300 times.

I experiment with pedagogical innovations, searching for best practices, examining participant experiences, illuminating areas of contention, confusion and common ground, and suggesting revision of theory and practice. In the main, my research outcomes posit conceptual frameworks and guidelines for informing practice, while raising questions for application to wider contexts.

My work  is significant as it values a human dimension in a technological realm. It is commonplace for technologies to be underutilised because people do not realise the potential of digital technologies for teaching and learning. My work has informed guidelines for effective teaching and learning through online discussion, across the University of Waikato, in Australia and in the United Kingdom. I have edited an ebook (1000+ downloads) and two special issues, curating international research. With UK colleagues, I have researched peer review and mentoring of online teaching. I have worked with students to promote professional online presence and learning networks. My two most recent international publications in journals that are widely read by researchers and practitioners worldwide attest to the currency and innovation of this work.

I have completed five supervisions at masters level, and am supervising five doctoral students. I teach research methods online, building graduate student research capacity, and have published with two students. For colleagues, I convene a monthly series of seminars on research-informed elearning, representing sustained commitment (over a period of 9 years so far) to cultivating research knowledge and capability.

Recent Publications

  • Forbes, D., Brown, C., Hartnett, M., Gedera, D., & Datt, A. (2022). Diverse student experiences of online learning: Organic collaborative research during a pandemic.. In WIASN Conference 2022. Retrieved from

  • Daly, N., & Forbes, D. (2021). Crossing the globe: Teaching a MOOC for the first time. In Te Puna Aurei LearnFest Higher Education Symposium. Hamilton, New Zealand.

  • Gedera, D., Datt, A., Brown, C., Forbes, D., & Hartnett, M. (2021). Beyond Zoom, Teams and video lectures: What do university students really want from online learning?. Retrieved from

  • Brown, C., Datt, A., Forbes, D., Gedera, D., & Hartnett, M. (2021). University student online learning experiences (SOLE) in COVID-times. Ipu Kererū. Retrieved from

Find more research publications by Dianne Forbes