Oxford calls for more e-learning research

August 22, 2003

The rush to embrace e-learning is raising doubts about whether enough research is being done into the benefits for students and staff in different disciplines.

Oxford University's Learning Technologies Group has questioned whether the choice of technology will shape the way subjects are taught or researched.

It said that in trying to make a "tool-kit" for all, universities might deter staff from experimenting by imposing the teaching methods of one discipline onto another.

Stuart Lee, director of the Oxford group, told a conference on designing and developing for disciplines: "There has been an absence of debate about how information technology can be used effectively to complement face-to-face teaching."

The Learning and Teaching Support Network is looking at campus-based students' experience of online learning in economics, psychology, education, computer science and hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism.

The project involves hundreds of first-years using five different virtual learning environments.

The Open University has run surveys of student reactions to teaching technologies includ-ing video and audio tapes, telephones and computers.

Simon Rae, of the OU Institute of Educational Technology, said: "Teachers have different beliefs about what they are doing but they don't always use the best techniques for that. The OU has consistently found a split between what technology students like to use in studying arts and science."

Details: www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/

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