Any Time? Any Place? The impact on student learning of an on-line learning environment.
An increasing number of HE institutions are adopting virtual and managed learning environments (VLEs and MLEs), which offer flexible access to on-line learning materials all day and every day. There are multiple claims about e-learning enhancing learning and teaching (eg.  Britain and Liber, 1999; Conole, 2002; Allen, 2003; Littlejohn and Higginson, 2003) such as supporting active learning, facilitative rather than didactic teaching and increased student motivation but these are not pre determined outcomes. Much depends on how lecturers use the available technology and how students respond to that use. This paper reports on a research project which has evaluated the students' own experience of on-line learning at the University of Hertfordshire. Using its own institution-wide MLE (StudyNet) academic staff at the university have been able to offer students on-line access to their study material from September 2001. Activities available for students using StudyNet include participating in discussion forums, using formative assessment materials and accessing journal articles as well as viewing and downloading courseware for each of their courses. Students were invited to participate in a questionnaire and focus groups to identify the characteristics of the on-line learning environment which benefited their learning.