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VLE  June 2005

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Subject:

Re: dissertation research

From:

John Green <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Virtual Learning Environments <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 Jun 2005 10:38:32 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (172 lines)

-----Original Message-----
From: Virtual Learning Environments [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf
Of Amit Jadeja
Sent: 02 June 2005 21:53
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VLES] dissertation research


I am currently writing a dissertation for my masters on the topic of vle
implementation and use. I was hoping members of this list would be able to
answer some research questions.

if you can spare the time, I would be most grateful. below are two
questionnaires, one for teachers/lecturers who use the technology and one
for people involved with vle implementation.

please state the VLE you used (i.e. blackboard, webct etc.) and the sector
you work in (i.e. school/fe/he).

if you are able to partcipate, many thanks in advance!

regards,

amit jadeja (msc e-business, university of london 2005/pgce pcet,
university of greenwich 2005)

QUESTIONNAIRE: IMPLEMENTATION

PART 1

1. Did you set up any kind of support systems to monitor/assist VLE
use?

Please describe forms of VLE support that were made available to users.
A BLACKBOARD SUPPORT "COURSE" WAS ESTABLISHED WITH A RANGE OF HELPSHEETS, FAQS, EXAMPLES, INSTRUCTIONS ETC UPLOADED. AS STAFF WERE TRAINED THEY WERE ENROLLED TO THIS COURSE. THIS ALSO OFFERED AN EMAIL LINK TO THE BLACKBOARD SUPPORT OFFICE. WE ALSO CREATED A POCKET SIZED MANUAL WITH STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS ON THE MAIN OPERATIONS IN COURSE BUILDING.
2. Which members of your organisation were assigned to provide
support?
THE VLE ADMINISTRATOR IS FULL TIME AND ABLE TO RESPOND QUICKLY TO REQUESTS FOR HELP AS WELL AS ARRANGING REGULAR TRAINING EVENTS.
3. a)

Was the VLE promoted within your organisation?
YES, LAUNCHED WITH AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM VICE PRINCIPAL AND FEATURED IN MANAGEMENT AND COURSE TEAM MEETINGS, REGULAR NEWSLETTER, INTRANET ANNOUNCEMENTS, HIGH PROFILE TRAINING EVENTS. ALSO INCLUDED IN STAFF AND STUDENT INDUCTIONS.

Did you provide a means for logging queries regarding VLE use?
NO SYSTEM, BUT ENQUIRIES ARE INTEGRATED INTO THE FAQ PAGES

Did your organisation adjust 'normal' teaching practice in any way to
encourage VLE use?
NO 
Did you make efforts to remove any uncertainty among staff concerning the
role of the VLE?
ANXIETIES WERE ADDRESSED IN EARLY TRAINING SESSIONS BUT WE HAVE NOW PASSED THE RESISTANCE STAGE AND MOST STAFF ARE CONVINCED OF THE VLE'S USEFULNESS EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT YET USING IT THEMSELVES. 

Does the VLE incorporate any experimental testing area for novice
users?
YES WE USE A PRACTICE COURSE IN TRAINING AND LEAVE IT OPEN FOR A WEEK OR TWO AFTERWARDS BUT MOST PREFER TO DO IT FOR REAL, LEAVING THE COURSE SWITCHED OFF TO STUDENTS

b)

Did your organisation provide any form of education about VLE usage?
WHEN THE VLE WAS NEW WE HAD TWO DAYS OF PROFESSIONAL TRAINING FOR KEY USERS, FOLLOWED BY HALF DAY TRAINING EVENTS IN CURRICULUM AREAS. NOW WE RUN A REGULAR PROGRAMME OF TWO HOUR TRAINING SESSIONS FOR BASIC/INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED USERS. ALL STAFF ARE WELCOME - BUT NOT OBLIGED TO ATTEND.

Where any guidelines provided regarding VLE usage?
WE ATTEMPTED TO SUGGEST A "MINIMAL" USE FOR THE VLE WHEN IT WAS NEW, (COURSE INFORMATION, STAFF INFORMATION, SCHEME OF WORK ETC.)BUT THIS WAS AN IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. IN PRACTICE THE VLE IS USED VERY DIFFERENTLY ACROSS THE DEPARTMENTS AND WE SOON REALISED THAT THE VLE WAS FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO ACCOMODATE MANY STYLES. 
WE DO HAVE A STANDARD COURSE TEMPLATE, WITH PRESET NAVIGATION PANEL AND COLOUR SCHEME AND THIS IS USEFUL BECAUSE THE TRAINING MATERIALS REFER TO THESE BUT WE ALSO ENCOURAGE STAFF TO RENAME ITEMS, CHANGE COLOURS, INTRODUCE NOVELTIES ETC. TEACHERS ARE CREATIVE AND DO COME UP WITH FRESH APPROACHES AND WE DO NOT WANT TO INHIBIT THIS.

c)

Was the VLE system modified in any way over time in response to user
feedback?
WE RUN THE BASIC VERSION OF BLACKBOARD SO THE OPPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE SYSTEM CHANGES ARE LIMITED.
WITHIN THE EXISTING STRUCTURE THE MOST IMPORTANT "MODIFICATION" WE HAVE MADE IS TO ESCAPE FROM THE PRESSURE TO ALWAYS RECREATE MIS COURSE CODINGS IN THE VLE; WE NOW RUN AN EQUAL NUMBER OF "MODULES" THAT ACCOMODATE GROUPS OF STUDENTS ON SEVERAL COURSES, PUTTING TOGETHER ELECTRICIANS, PLUMBERS, JOINERS FOR GENERIC CONSTRUCTION STUDIES.THIS IS VERY MUCH IN RESPONSE TO USER FEEDBACK FROM TUTORS WHO DID NOT WANT TO UPLOAD THE SAME STUFF SEVERAL TIMES. 

d)

Over time, were any major improvements made to the VLE?
THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL UPGRADES THAT HAVE ADDED USEFUL FEATURES, WYSIWYG TEXT EDITOR, VIEW/ DISPLAY TOGGLE BETWEEN STUDENT AND TUTOR VIEWS.

4. If support was provided, was this ongoing or only provided when
the technology was introduced?
CONTINUED SUPPORT, TEAM HAS EXPANDED 

5. If no specific support was in place, was there anyone in your
organisation available to teachers use the VLE?

6. Did any particular members of your organisation support the VLE in
being introduced/used/accepted?
THE COMPUTING SECTION WERE EARLY ADOPTERS AND OFFERED OBJECTIVE SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK

7. Did anyone in your organisation provide training in use of the VLE?
YES, ME, AFTER TWICE ATTENDING THE TWO DAY PROFESSIONAL TRAINING


PART 2

1. Do users feel limited by the rules built into the VLE (i.e. do
they want it to do things that it doesn't allow?)
ONLY IN THE GRADEBOOK WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW SUFFICIENT SCOPE FOR CRITERIA BASED GRADING.
WE HAVE NOT YET PUSHED THE VLE TO ITS LIMITS HARDLY UTILISING THE COMMUNICATION TOOLS YET.

2. Why is the VLE used? (by users)
BY STAFF, MOSTLY TO EXPAND AND ENRICH COURSE DELIVERY AND AS A CONTENT STORE.
BY STUDENTS, FOR REVISITING COURSE MATERIAL AT HOME, READING COURSE ANNOUNCEMENTS, PRINTING DOCS AND HANDING IN ASSIGNMENTS ELECTRONICALLY

3. Does your organisation tell users how and when to use the
technology?
NO
4. Do users feel that they have enough time to use the technology
alongside their regular work commitments?
TIME IS A CONTINUAL COMPLAINT OF COURSE BUT WE ARE ALSO (NOW) BENEFITING FROM A NUMBER OF USERS WHO OPENLY CLAIM THAT THE VLE IS SAVING THEM TIME 

5. Do users find that of the VLE requires a great deal of application?
YES, WE FIND THAT THE MOST SUCESSFUL COURSES ARE THOSE WHICH ARE KEPT FRESH WITH FREQUENT ANNOUNCEMENTS, NEW STUDY MATERIALS, WEBSITES ETC. THIS DOES TAKE TIME AND APPLICATION.

6. How technologically able are users of the VLE in your organisation?
VERY VARIED

7. How motivated are staff members to use the technology?
MOSTLY WELL MOTIVATED BUT VOCATIONAL STAFF ARE OFTEN DISCOURAGED BECAUSE THERE ARE INSUFFICIENT COMPUTERS IN THEIR AREAS TO MAKE IT WORK WITH ALL STUDENTS

8. Does your organisation provide resources for using the VLE? (i.e.
hardware/software/Internet access)
YES, EQUIPPED CLASSROOMS, FLEXIBLE LEARNING CENTRES, LIBRARY ALL WITH INTERNET ACCESS AND HIGH SPEC PCS

9. Does your organisation allocate tasks related to VLE use?
NO

10. Does your organisation make teachers use the VLE?
NO

11. Do teachers in your organisation choose not to use the VLE? If so,
why do you think this is?
A SMALL NUMBER HAVE PEDAGOGICAL OBJECTIONS

PART 3

1. In what ways does your organisation influence how the VLE is used?
MOSTLY THROUGH SUPPORT, AVAILABLITY, TRAINING

2. Which members of your organisation are qualified to use the VLE?
ALL WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED 

Do you think these people will help unqualified staff to learn the
technology?
YES BUT I WORRY ABOUT THIS BECAUSE IN MY EXPERIENCE THIS OFTEN LEADS TO POOR UNDERSTANDING OF THE  FULL POTENTIAL OF THE VLE. PEOPLE PASS ON JUST ENOUGH - WHICH IS NOT ENOUGH.

3. How much freedom does your organisation give to use the VLE as
users please?
TOTAL FREEDOM WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE APPLICATIONS STRUCTURE. VLE TEAM SUPPORTS INNOVATION AND EXPERIMENT.

4. What is the general consensus among staff regarding the technical
complexity of the VLE?
THEY ANTICIPATE COMPLEXITY BUT ARE SURPRISED BY THE SIMPLICITY AND THE EASE WITH WHICH THEY CAN DO SMART THINGS.

5. In your opinion, will the VLE become integrated into the 'everyday
life' of your organisation and what factors might influence its take up?
YES, WE ARE ADDING MORE NEW COURSES EACH YEAR AND THIS WILL INCREASE IF IT PROVISION CONTINUES TO EXPAND. LOCAL COORDINATORS WOULD SPEED THE TAKE UP. TIMETABLE RELIEF MIGHT ALSO HELP BUT I AM LESS CONVINVCED ABOUT THIS THESE DAYS.


GOOD LUCK WITH THE DISSERTATION.....


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