Creating significant learning experiences using education technology

O’Sullivan, Siobhán and McGlynn, Hugh (2010) Creating significant learning experiences using education technology. [Conference Proceedings]


The rapid expansion of the Internet and greater software capabilities are influencing the strategies of teaching and learning on several levels. Web-based learning tools e.g. Blackboard and WebCT provide integrated environments of various technologies to support diverse educator and learner needs. These products provide a generic set of tools that allow instructors to remotely upload their class materials, provide and grade assignments, provide goals, syllabus guidelines, remind students of upcoming assessments, provide reminders of due dates for assignments and communication links. The virtual classroom allows for real-time interaction between the lecturer and students. It serves as a communication tool and also provides a forum where questions can be asked and answered outside the temporal and geographical limitations of the lecture hall. Tutors can participate and provide e-tutorials by agreeing set times at which they will be available in a chat room to discuss any issues or problems. These tools are significantly under-used and, for many academics, the sole purpose of the VLE is as a repository to store lecture materials; the emphasis being more on the information technology aspect rather than the educational element. Under-utilisation of VLEs cannot be blamed on inadequate training as most Universities and colleges currently have Teaching and Learning Centres supporting their use. However, in many cases there may be limited back-up facilitates i.e. learning support teams which could potentially provide support to those who wish to develop e-learning materials. The effect on student learning is often questioned in the following terms: Does the VLE enhance development of the independent learner or does it encourage students to become overly dependent on a repository? But, when used correctly and properly aligned with course objectives, learning outcomes and assessments, the VLE can add a new dimension to a course; it does not replace the face-to-face classroom online but can enhance learning outside of the classroom by providing students with new tools to facilitate learning. VLEs have the ability to place the learner in the centre of the virtual environment rather than the learning activities. The environment provides the learner with facilities to manage their own learning experience; in this way the learner can shape and develop their own knowledge.

[thumbnail of Research Teaching Linkages Practice and Policy Conference Proceedings NAIRTL 3rd Annual Conference.pdf]
Research Teaching Linkages Practice and Policy Conference Proceedings NAIRTL 3rd Annual Conference.pdf

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