Evaluating the benefits of web-based learning with academic staff
The provision of Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) to organize web based learning have sprung up in universities and other Higher Education institutions across a number of countries in recent years. Some MLEs use proprietary software to create the learning environment (e.g. BlackboardTM, or WebCT TM) and others have been developed in-house with local expertise. Their common aim is to provide an asynchronous mode of access to learning materials for students at any time of day or night both during term time and throughout the vacation, this has become known as `24/7' access. Web based learning may be offered in this way either on a course-by-course basis or across the institution as a whole. How far does it benefit the academic staff (from technical and non technical backgrounds) who are required to use it perhaps unwillingly? How important are the training and the support provided for academics and what are their stated preferences? These are some of the questions, which a major study into the use of and attitudes towards the MLE in a British university has investigated.