Effective Learning and the Virtual Learning Environment
M J Stiles
The Learning Development Centre, Staffordshire University, UK
This paper was originally delivered as a Keynote at the 2000 European Universities Information Systems Congress - EUNIS 2000 - "Towards Virtual Universities" in Poznan, Poland on April 2000. It has been published in Proceedings: EUNIS 2000 - Towards Virtual Universities, Instytut Informatyki Politechniki Poznanskiej, Poznan April 2000, ISBN 83 913639 1 0, and is reproduced here, in a slightly updated form, with kind permission. |
Using Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) poses important educational issues for Universities. Without addressing the issues of effective learning, their use can compound the mistakes of the past and leave the learner with a passive, unengaging experience leading to surface learning. Educators need to recognise that learning is a social process and that providing an effective learning environment which facilitates the active acquisition of subject-specific and general expertise, and addresses the need to adopt a specific subject or professional culture, requires more than electronically delivered course notes and email discussion. Quality of course design, use of appropriate tools and the context in which learning takes place are prime factors affecting success in the era of mass higher education and lifelong learning.
The COSE VLE, developed under funding from the UK Joint Information Systems Committee, and now published by Longman Software Publishing, is designed to facilitate active and collaborative learning and to address the educational issues which will be discussed. The system is learner centred and facilitates the offering of active learning opportunities, including specific tutor guidance, granularity of group working by tutors and learners, and varied peer and tutor support, feedback, and discussion. COSE is designed to support distributed learning.