Using a Managed Learning Environment in Higher Education: the students' views
The Dearing Report (NCEHE, 1997: 13.1), called for the effective use of information technology in learning and teaching in higher Education, suggesting that it, ‘… holds out much promise for improving the quality, flexibility and effectiveness of higher education’. Six years later it is time to take stock of what has been achieved. Technology in learning and teaching is no longer peripheral. Its presence is ubiquitous at the strategic if not always at the operation level. However, relatively little is known about its real as opposed to claimed effectiveness in enhancing student learning and their experience of higher education. There are multiple claims about e-learning enhancing learning and teaching (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 predetermined outcomes. Much depends on how lecturers use them and how students respond to that use. The research reported here is based on an investigation into students’ views and experiences of the introduction of BobCat (an MLE) in one university in England. It follows from and builds on a previous research project (2002/3) that investigated lecturers views and experiences of the introduction of BobCat in the same university. Seven focus groups were used to follow-up issues raised from a structured survey of just under 1,000 students.