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As internet access and use increase exponentially, pedagogical practice becomes increasingly embedded in online platforms. We report on an online initiative of engaged student learning, the peer-led, staff-assisted e-helpdesk for research methods and statistics, which we evaluated and redeveloped using the lens and guiding principles of the framework for partnership in learning and teaching of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). The aim of the redevelopment was to steer the initiative towards a more integrative and sustainable implementation, as manifest in the applied construct of an online partnership learning community. Our evolving experience of the e-helpdesk highlighted the central role of the facilitator in engineering and maintaining social presence in the online community. We propose an extended model for building an online partnership learning community, whereby partnership encapsulates all the essential elements of student and staff partnership as outlined in the HEA framework, but is also critically defined by similar parameters of partnership between users and facilitators. In this model, the facilitator's role becomes more involved in instructional teaching as disciplinary expertise increases, but descending levels of disciplinary expertise can foster ascending levels of independent learning and shared discovery for both users and facilitators.

Original publication




Journal article


Teaching and Learning Inquiry

Publication Date





143 - 164