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E-Learning and the Use of Virtual Learning Environments in Economics

E-Learning and the Use of Virtual Learning Environments in Economics. Guglielmo Volpe London Metropolitan University. Structure of Presentation. E-Learning: Definition and Use Virtual Learning Environment Web 2.0 – Social Software Reusable Learning Objects. E-Learning: Definition and Use.

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E-Learning and the Use of Virtual Learning Environments in Economics

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  1. E-Learning and the Use of Virtual Learning Environments in Economics Guglielmo Volpe London Metropolitan University

  2. Structure of Presentation • E-Learning: Definition and Use • Virtual Learning Environment • Web 2.0 – Social Software • Reusable Learning Objects

  3. E-Learning: Definition and Use • E-Learning • “Mixture of the different preferred learning methods, delivered to the learner through the use of information technology. Supported with instructional design and engaging content” • Use of E-Learning • E-learning can be used effectively as a replacement for existing classroom training or as part of a blended Information Technology and classroom based training solution

  4. E-Learning • Using E-Learning • Support to students’ learning: IT provides a simple support to the learning process in terms of, for example, distribution of teaching material • Embedded within module/course design to support chosen pedagogical approach: IT is integrated within the design of a module/course and is key to the achievement of desired learning outcomes

  5. Questions • Did you experience e-learning yourself during your studies? • If yes, in what form? • How do you think e-learning can support students’ learning • Put yourself in the position of a student: how could IT help your learning?

  6. Virtual Learning Environment • “VLEs refer to the components in which learners and tutors participate in ‘online’ interactions of various kinds, including online learning” (JISC, 2001) • Until recently the main products in the UK HE were ‘Blackboard’ and ‘WebCT’ • The two companies have now merged and ‘WebCT Vista’ (do not confuse it with new Microsoft OS!!) is now the new main product on the market • Vista aims at being ‘more’ than just a virtual learning environment – Integrated solution for academic management

  7. Virtual Learning Environment • VLEs provide an e-box full of e-tools that can be combined to support or drive students’ learning • Communication tools (emails, notice boards, blogs, student’s journal-PDP) • Assessment tools • Repository for and distribution of teaching and learning material • Shared spaces for students • Students management system (registration, tracking, performance) • Students space

  8. Virtual Learning Environment • Levels of VLE Use (Mason, 1998) • Content and support model: pre-prepared content is delivered in print or online and support is provided online • Wrap-around model: where there is a mixture of pre-prepared content and online learning activities (online discussions, collaborative activities) • Integrated model: where most of the learning takes place via collaborative online activities and content is determined mainly by the learners

  9. Virtual Learning Environment Levels of use (Cook, 1999) Simple • Posting course information and material • Including links to other online material • Communication between students and lecturers • Provide a ‘shell’ for computer-assisted learning resources • Assessment – self-assessment and end-of-term assessment • Integrating online activities, support and materials with lecturers and seminars • Collaborative student projects • Delivering complete online courses with fully integrated activities Complex

  10. Virtual Learning Environment: levels of use • Posting course information and material • Lecture notes, reading lists, handbooks • Assignment details • Overall: repository and distribution of teaching material • Including links to other online material • Links to external resources (articles, datasets, international organisations websites, researcher’s website etc.) • Students-posted links: links can be posted by students themselves via discussion board, personal website, blogs etc.

  11. Virtual Learning Environment: levels of use • Communication between students and tutors • Discussion Board: to foster class discussion about topic or issue • Emails: allows students to email privately among themselves or with tutor within VLE • Chat Rooms: synchronous communication among students logged into the VLE – Useful for direct debate about sudden issue; office hours?; virtual seminar? • Blogs: posts entries/topics/discussions that students can look and reply to • Student’s Journal: private space for student to post personal reflections on her/his studies • Provide a ‘shell’ for computer-assisted learning resources • Interactive learning (economics) material freely available on the web can be included in VLE • Reusable Learning Objects???

  12. Virtual Learning Environment: levels of use • Summative and Formative Assessment • Create questions databanks that can be used to generate self-assessment quizzes and end-of-term exams • Assessment Tools Include: multiple choice tests, True or False questions, short answers, matching words • Integrating online activities, support and materials with lecturers and seminars • Complement lecture with online tutorials that end up with self-assessment • Ask students to engage in discussion forum about specific issues raised in class – quality and quantity of contribution can be assessed • Overall: design a system whereby the learning objectives can be achieved through an integration of ‘old’ and ‘new’ technologies

  13. Virtual Learning Environment: levels of use • Collaborative student projects • Students work in groups towards the solution of a task • The communication tools can be used to work together and to exchange information with other groups • Delivering complete online courses with fully integrated activities • All the teaching, learning and assessment material is developed in an integrated way within the VLE • Limited or no contact with the tutor • Learner more in control of his learning

  14. Virtual Learning Environment: Pros and Cons

  15. Are VLEs the Future? There is an increasing recognition of the tension between the monolithic VLE that tends to see university business from an administrative view rather than from the perspective of the individual student, and an individual's personalised view of the environment they work, study and live within. This tension runs to the very heart of what universities and higher/further education is about… Successful technologies in the 21st century are all about “helping people”, exemplified by the success of Google in helping people find stuff on the internet. This is in contrast with the trend in the late 20th century of building big institutions, databases containing large amounts of content… So the current trend is towards small groups of students and workers able to learn anywhere with freely available content where the emphasis is on the social aspect of learning. This has huge implications for traditional universities, who will need to think creatively about learning, assessment and particularly learning spaces to attract tomorrow’s learners (Heppell, 2006)

  16. Web 2.0 – Social Software • Use of networked computers to connect people in order to boost their knowledge and their ability to learn (blogs, wikis, podcasting, videoblogs, social networking – facebook, myspace) • Microcontent: break away from Web as a book – blogs are about posts, wikis are stream of conversation, revision, truncation, amendments • Openness • Users to play fundamental role in information architecture (wisdom of crowds) • Folksonomies: words that users generate and attach to content

  17. Web 2.0 – Social Software • Social Bookmarking – del.icio.us • Ability to store, share, describe bookmarks • Bookmarks are tagged and searches can be made according to tags • Role in Higher Education? • Outbound Memory: location to store links that might be lost to time • Help finding people with similar or related interests, learn from others, new collaborations • Clusters of tags reveal patterns not immediately visible by examining URLs • Multi-authored bookmark pages can be helpful for team projects • Following a bookmark site gives insights into the owner’s research

  18. Web 2.0 – Social Software • Social Writing Platforms • Wiki pages allow users to quickly edit their content from within the browser window • Collaborative writing softwares (Writeboard, Writely) • Role in Higher Education? • Students group learning • Department collaborative work

  19. Web 2.0 – Social Software • Blogging • Role in Higher Education? • Learning from news, articles, analyses • Search across time as news/views develop • Collaboration across departments, universities, etc. • Awareness of topical issue

  20. Reusable Learning Objects: The New? • Reusable learning objects are web-based interactive chunks of e-learning designed to explain a stand-alone learning objective. The fact that the learning object has been broken down to a low level of granularity facilitates its reuse in different learning and teaching situations • RLOs are stored in repositories which are an electronic library in which learning objects are stored. Learning objects can be retrieved from a repository by a teacher working at a standard desktop PC • Incorporating appropriate pedagogy (i.e. learning and teaching methods and strategies) into the effective use of learning objects is an important issue to consider in the development of RLOs • A Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Reusable Learning Objects has been created in partnership between Cambridge University, London Metropolitan University and Nottingham University • www.rlo-cetl.ac.uk

  21. New Technologies? • Mobile Phones: students interact a lot through text-messaging or distant communication. Can this technology be usedto support students’ learning? • Handheld Computers (PDAs): could learning material be distributed through PDAs and can students be asked to engage in their learning through this technology? • iPods: they are very common among young people. Could this technology be used to support learning? • Developments • Tests are taking place to develop RLOs for mobile phones and PDAs • Some universities have developed T&L material for iPods and some lecturers have given up big-lecture teaching! • Some universities give iPods to their students and they keep it if they pass the course!

  22. References Publications • Cook J., (1999), Virtual Learning Environments: Making the Web Easy to Use for Teachers and Learners, University of Bristol, available on http://www.ltss.bris.ac.uk/guides.htm • Heppell S., (2006), Helping learners to help each other: why learning in the 21st century is a very different place, Available on http://www.alt.ac.uk/ • Mason R., (1998), ‘Models of online Courses’, ALN Magazine, vol. 2, n. 2 • O’Leary R., Ramsden A., (2001), Virtual Learning Environments, The Handbook for Economics Lecturers, Economics Network, available on http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/vle/ • Bryan A., (2006), “Web 2.0. A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning?”, Educause Review, available on http://connect.educause.edu/library/abstract/Web20ANewWaveofInnov/40615 Websites • JISC on e-learning: http://www.elearning.ac.uk/ • RLO Cetl: http://www.rlo-cetl.ac.uk • Learning Development & Innovation Moodle at Staffordshire University http://crusldi1.staffs.ac.uk/moodle/login/index.php

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