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  • The Internet is down, relying on my 3G iPhone …I knew there was some reason to buy this expensive piece of kit… #

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Introduction – The Critical Study Is Taking Shape…

Over the next few weeks I will be publishing drafts of areas of my Critical Study – more than anything to allow me to validate and vindicate to myself that I am getting somewhere. I do not profess anything specifically visionary, but if you fancy a read then enjoy…Picture 1

‘Technology is woven in the fabric of our lives.’(Marcinkiewicz, 2000, p. 3)

In the 21st Century there is no mistaking the impact that technology has had on every aspect of our lives, although until recently the”…technological changes that affected society left educational systems largely unchanged.” (Strommen, 1992 cited in (Kiraz & Ozdemir, 2006, p. 152) However the world of education has in recent years begun to consider the potential that new technologies might bring including e-learning tools and learning strategies.

E-learning is a broad term, which has many definitions but is often simply‘…defined as ‘…learning facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology.’’ (JISC, 2008) E-learning comes in many forms and methods ‘…encompassing a broad range of activities across a spectrum from using e-learning for “smarter” learner support, through blended learning (the majority of activity) to learning that is delivered entirely online.’ (E-learning at UCL, 2009) Whether the technology used facilitates distance-based learning at University or High School with organisations like Virtual High School[1] or within face-2-face school environments to enhance teaching; the most is always to improve learning. (JISC, 2008)

In recent years UK secondary schools have been required to invest and integrate the use of one particular e-learning tool, often described as a Learning Platform or Virtual Learning Environment. In 2004, FERL[2] organised an online conference to assess the progress of the use and implementation of VLE’s across all areas of education in the UK which found that ‘…many educational institutions (including schools) now have VLEs (or some similar form of learning platform.’(Minshull, 2004, p. 5) However VLEs were often found to be underutilised due to no specific aims for integration and a lack of teacher control during implementation leading to ‘…a perception that new technology and additional work is being imposed.’ (Minshull, 2004, p. 15)

These issues alongside constraints including lack of hardware, support and connectivity had led ‘…to considerable dissatisfaction within some areas of the school educational community in what is currently being offered as a VLE solution.’(Minshull, 2004, p. 15) With the UK governments’ ‘Harnessing Technology – Transforming Learning and Children’s Services’ paper published in 2004, a new agenda was set for education in England with two main goals. Firstly it was stated that ‘…developing improved, personalised learning with technology,’(BECTA, 2008) for every student was necessary through ‘…building an integrated, accessible infrastructure which supports personalisation.’(BECTA, 2008)

This has led to the VLE becoming ubiquitous in almost all UK schools and colleges, which has in turn influenced the private sector. However there still seems to be a need to understand how to improve acceptance and integration of these environments for the benefit of all stakeholders and most importantly the learning of individual students. Are VLEs succeeding in delivering the personalised learning that some said they have promised?

On a personal level after recent action research into setting up a Virtual Learning Environment within an International School, I had many unanswered questions regarding implementation and acceptance of such an environment. My research had specifically looked at development and use of a Moodle[3] based environment within the ICT department at school.(Perkins, 2006) It was noted within the evaluation that ‘…I [did] wonder at this point if teachers within [the school][4] would have the time or passion to develop a course themselves.’(Perkins, 2006, p. 24)

At the time one other department and three teachers voluntarily decided that they would like to introduce Moodle based courses within their teaching. The teachers could see how the use of such a technology could help their course development. The Business Studies and ICT department over the year successfully developed courses, but it was a small scale that thrived on the enthusiasm of a few teachers. It was however certain that the e-learning innovation would not spread or be adopted by the wider school community. This research raised the question of how such a learning environment would be accepted if set as a whole school iniative and what would be the issues and ways to make this innovation successful with high teacher adoption and acceptance of such a system.


[1] Virtual High School – an organisation for High School students to follow web based distance-learning courses with over 11,902 students as of 2009. GovVHS. (2009, September 5). About Use. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from VHS: http://www.govhs.org/Pages/AboutUs-Home

[2] Further Education Resources for Learning – an organisation for Post 16 education to enable the integration of technologies for teaching and learning.

[3] Moodle – an open source LMS/VLE system

[4] Schools names have not been included within this research paper – although all citations and sources that come from specific schools can be found within the Bibliography.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-06

  • …has anyone tried the new Jolicloud on an eeepc yet – is it better than easypeasy? #
  • @Woff70 hmm I think you have taken the pleasures of Moodledom to far… in reply to Woff70 #

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This weblog is now iPhone and Mobile Compliant…

iPhone 3G vs. Android G1
Image by inju via Flickr

Just take a look, and browse with your iPhone or Google Android based phone.

It is as simple as that – loads fast and enables optimised viewing for your delight. Thanks simply goto the Wphone plugin

Enjoy,

Dr Tech

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