It is always a delight and never a chore to teach on the Oxford University Masters in e-Learning programme. Despite what has come to be a rather albatross-like title, the programme attracts a range of interesting student participants with varied backgrounds and interests. The session I teach on the course this term is about VLEs for higher education.
We discussed why universities have VLEs, and why some factions might think they had passed their sell-by –date. But, as deTocqueville would say: for every faction there is an opposing faction, so the debate was lively.
We looked at the recent 2008 UCISA TEL report. Which discovered, to no-ones great surprise, that ‘staff skills’ and ‘lack of time’ were the main barriers to use of technology in learning and teaching in higher education and that ‘staff development’ was the primary solution.
With that in mind, the task for the session was to design a staff development day for university lecturers to help them to ‘best’ use a VLE. Each group spent two hours on the exercise and presented their designs at the end of the session. It was very interesting to see how theories of learning were used to decide on the content to be covered, but not so much on the pedagogical design of the day.
Mr Mandleson tells us today to be more clear about the jobs our graduates will get when they finish a course of study. I hope that some of the M.E-learning students at Oxford will become university learning technologists, so it is just as well they get practice designing staff development sessions now, as I suspect the UCISA TEL reports will say nothing different for a good few years hence.