The merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport in April 2013, to form the University of South Wales created a series of challenges and opportunities in relation to the use of the technology for learning and teaching across the newly formed institution. While both institutions had previously actively promoted the use of technology to enhance learning, providing a wide range of online tools to support and enhance learning, teaching and assessment, there was inevitably some discrepancy in use. This led to an inconsistent experience for users and increased pressure on training and support resources. Most notably, the presence of two VLEs (Moodle and Blackboard) raised questions about effective practice and highlighted the challenges associated with moving to a single VLE across the institution.
Between September – December 2013, the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching and IT Services undertook a review of all online and electronic learning systems with a view to recommending a solution which would provide a consistent experience for all staff and students.
The review explored the views of all staff and students across the institution through surveys followed by focus groups. The review aimed to establish how users were using the learning systems and identify how technology might be used to enhance learning and teaching across the University in the future.
The findings of the review echo those of recent work by White (2013) and Kandiko (2013), which report on a mismatch between student expectations of how technology is used in HE and reality. These include frustrations with the VLE, both in terms of reliability of access and available information, a continuing ‘lone ranger’ approach (Bates, 2000, in Stiles, 2006) to the use of technology, the need to review how we provide training and support to staff and students in the use of technology and the expectations of staff and students in relation to how technology is accessed and used for learning and teaching. Most notably, the presentation challenges the assumption that effective use of technology is embedded in learning and teaching across institutions, a concern reported by Stiles who indicates that irrespective of the strategic approach taken to promote the use of technology, ‘success is, at best, partial’ (2006, p252). The presentation concludes by making recommendations on how the full scale deployment of tools to support learning, teaching and assessment might be achieved more effectively.
The presentation will be of interest to anyone interested in reviewing current online systems for learning and teaching and to those staff involved in providing staff development and support.
Kandiko, C.B & Mawer, M. (2013) Student Expectations and Perceptions of Higher Education: Executive Summary. London: King’s Learning Institute
Stiles, M & Yorke, J (2006) Technology supported learning – Tensions between innovation, and control and organisational and professional cultures, Journal of Organisational and Social Change, Vol 3, No. 3 pp 251 – 267
White, D et al (2013) Students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment – Literature review, JISC [Accessed 27/03/14 fromhttp://digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org/wp/files/2013/12/The-Digital-Student-Study-Literature-Review-FINAL1.docx ]
|Affiliation||University of South Wales|