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Learning environment problem solving: Suggested electronic course templates for use in a VLE -- 102 -- Short (oral) Paper

11:30 - 12:30 on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 in 4.205

Part of the work of learning technologists is to support academic staff in reflecting on their pedagogical practice and to explore how technologies such as virtual learning environments (VLEs) may contribute to streamlining the teaching function and enriching the student learning experience. This paper presents a collection of suggested electronic templates for academic staff to use as a starting point when embarking on developing a course site within an institutional VLE.

We embarked on a small, informal project during the course of our normal academic support work. Our approach was exploratory and unstructured; however, all three learning technologists (the authors) have rich experience of working with both staff and students, which contributed to the development of the templates. We conducted interviews with ten VLE users: eight academics and two departmental administrators. In some cases we mentioned our goal of designing templates; in other cases, sample sites shown to us contributed to our ideas in terms of structure, layout and content of possible templates to meet the needs being described. No systematic examination of course sites themselves was undertaken, and no student input was solicited.

We assume a blended learning approach with at least some measure of face-to-face contact between lecturers and students, even if this is infrequent or of short duration. We broadened Jara and Mohamad's (2007) focus on the extent of face-to-face and online learning components in a course, and consulted existing frameworks to support learning design. We suggest four categories of pedagogical dimensions: logistical, practice-based, pedagogical purpose, and participation, which inform five course site properties to consider when building a course template: user roles, user experience, functionality and tools, initial content, and technical system settings.

We conceptualised six types of course site templates and will present three of them. Users are encouraged to adapt the templates according to the teaching task at hand and the particular needs of the lecturer and students. Aspects from any template may be incorporated, where applicable, into another one. Each template contains a Help page giving basic guidance, with links to more information, guides and video tutorials on the use of the suggested tools.

The value of partially structured and populated electronic course templates is that they are practical, easy to understand, and useful to academic staff, without requiring any further intervention from learning technologists. They offer academics a starting point which is more helpful and productive than being presented with a blank course area in a VLE. The templates and their use have yet to be tested and evaluated with users, thus providing scope for future research.


Presentation uploaded.
Thanks for all the good questions posed, and contacts made thereafter.
I will build the lattice model into the latest version of our draft paper. Email me if you would like a copy of the draft (currently under review by Research in Learning Technology):

Wednesday, 12 September 2012, 15:50