Coventry students go online

October 1, 1999

Students arriving at Coventry University this week were taking part in the biggest experiment in electronic learning in higher education when they were offered free access to an interactive web site for every module they take.

David Grantham, a law lecturer involved in the experiment, said it was a high-risk venture that would lead to a revolution in the ways students learn and academics teach. "Eventually, we want to replace a lot of traditional lecturing - about 20 per cent next year - because the benefits are so overwhelming."

After pilots in 1995, the experiment went live throughout the university on Tuesday. Web sites are likely to offer lecture notes, seminar questions, email, discussion forums, bulletin boards, interactive material to work through and hyperlinks to other learning resources.

Although enthusiastic, pilot students "did not want to lose all face-to-face contact with tutors, so we are continuing conventional seminars," Mr Grantham said.

Lectures are more like workshops andthe online forum has been found to encourage reluctant students to make contributions, develop in-depth learning and allows students to pace learning.

Any drawbacks? "It is very technology-dependent," said Mr Grantham. Indeed, this week the system crashed. "A temporary blip," he said.

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