E-learning advocates – Dr Lee Horsley

E-Learning

University of Lancaster

Status: Completed September 2007

Brief description

The project aimed to concentrate on the transformative possibilities of virtual learning within our postgraduate programmes, both at MA and PhD level, campus-based and distance learning. Its objectives were to:

  • advance teaching methodology and philosophy within a reflexive framework;
  • create practical course development strategies;
  • explore interdisciplinary links within the temporal and spatial liberties offered by virtual learning environments.

It was suggested that, building on this, there could be a further stage (probably beyond the scope of the proposed initiative) feeding methodological and technical advances made at the postgraduate level into our teaching provision at undergraduate level.

Background

Lancaster University is still in the process of evolving a well-defined eLearning strategy; it is committed to moving from departmentally focused innovation towards the implementation of institution-wide initiatives. The Department of English & Creative Writing had, in the academic year 2005-06, made a major effort to establish and encourage the use of VL facilities across its whole range of courses.  For the most part, these facilities were still operating at the fairly basic level of providing online resources to complement existing teaching provision.  Levels of online interaction and collaborative learning had, however, been much more fully explored on the Creative Writing side of the Department, which led the way in the formulation of new approaches capable of linking the use of eLearning technologies to innovation in pedagogical practice.

Project design

Our proposed methodology involved fostering the development of VLE technologies, overseeing the creation of adequate intranet site structures, and encouraging the use of specific interactive methodologies. These activities were undertaken in relation to the enhancement of the VLE for our off-campus constituency (the further development of our Creative Writing Distance Learning MA and the introduction of a strong structure for a Distance Learning PhD), with the aim of developing improved VL capabilities within the campus community and the building up of online connections with the wider constituency of students drawn together by our international programmes.

Key findings and outcomes

Our proposed methodology involved fostering the development of VLE technologies, overseeing the creation of adequate intranet site structures, and encouraging the use of specific interactive methodologies. These activities were undertaken in relation to the enhancement of the VLE for our off-campus constituency (the further development of our Creative Writing Distance Learning MA and the introduction of a strong structure for a Distance Learning PhD), with the aim of developing improved VL capabilities within the campus community and the building up of online connections with the wider constituency of students drawn together by our international programmes.

Outcomes

At undergraduate level, the student-centred and interactive uses of the VLE developed or augmented during 2006-07 included:

  • Student-generated archives of comment, analysis
  • Conferences
  • Learning logs
  • Questions for seminars that can be posted up before the seminar by the tutor
  • Thinking ahead to seminars
  • Carrying on with seminar discussion
  • Preliminary discussion as the basis for seminar discussion
  • The half-unit experiment in assessed contributions to the VLE

At postgraduate and research level many of the developments involved the integration of conventional web space and web 2.0:

  • Development of ‘Transcultural Writing and Research’ at the PG and research level
  • Online training and virtual resources
  • Archival resources (online magazine, sound and video archives, etc.)
  • Writers’ blogs and forums

Project report

Related links

Project leader

Dr Lee Horsley
University of Lancaster

Research Period

September 2006 – September 2007