Network problems

January 28, 2000

Trisha Greenhalgh is quite right to point out that enthusiasm for teaching on the worldwide web is running ahead of any systematic knowledge of how students feel about it or whether they are learning much from their experiences ("The truth behind a plush exterior", THES, January 21).

For good or ill, enthusiasm has run ahead of evidence throughout the 40-year history of computer-assisted learning. What teachers in higher education count as useful evidence is unclear. There is no consensus about appropriate ways of capturing and sharing pedagogical knowledge, whether it is derived from experience or based on systematic study.

This makes it difficult, but not impossible, to build bridges between research, practice and policy-making. Readers interested in this process might like to join the networked-learning discussion list on Mailbase ( or visit the website of our Joint Information Systems Committee-funded project on "Students' experiences of networked learning in higher education" (

Peter Goodyear Professor of educational research Lancaster University

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