UCISA has just published a series of case studies on technology enhanced learning, as a companion to the report on the 2012 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning, which was released in September. The publication features case studies of ten HE institutions based in England and Scotland, which volunteered to share their practice relating to the development and management of TEL services. It’s a fascinating read, capturing how e-learning services are being delivered across a diverse selection of institutions, ranging from Pre-92 Russell Group to Post-92 GuildHE institutions.
The case studies serve as a follow-up to the survey report, offering a layer of contextual information on TEL service management, as well as addressing some themes that could not be covered in the survey, such as TEL governance within institutions and provision for quality management of TEL services to staff and students. A range of emerging trends were also tackled in the interviews, such as the development of services in support of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), the scaling up of distance learning provision and support across the sector for the development and sharing of open educational resources.
One of the key areas explored in the case studies is support for mobile learning. The 2012 UCISA TEL Survey reported that mobile technologies top the list of challenges that institutions are now facing and are placing the most demand on TEL support teams. The case studies explain that the main challenge is in supporting a range of mobile devices and meeting expectations from students for their devices to work seamlessly with university networks. As a response to this, four of the case study institutions, including Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Strathclyde, refer to the importance of upgrading the wireless networks to facilitate the use of mobile devices. University College London are planning to extend wireless coverage to halls of residence following student feedback which has identified this as a key priority.
The case studies also shed light on additional institutional challenges related to the evolution of technology, including support for upgrading or implementing TEL tools (e.g. VLE upgrades, e-portfolios and multimedia provision), developing and maintaining relationships with local TEL support staff and external suppliers, and raising awareness and engaging academic staff and senior management in the adoption of TEL tools as part of academic practice.
In addressing these challenges, institutions have built up dedicated central support teams for TEL services, although Edinburgh Napier University has opted for embedded TEL support across a range of service areas rather than one dedicated support team. Common to most institutions though is a strong emphasis on quality assurance measures for online course delivery. The majority of institutions have either implemented or are considering the implementation of minimum requirements for TEL, specifically for use of the VLE provision. Edinburgh Napier has developed a quality framework for TEL which has been reused by York St John University. University College London also reports on its use of a metric developed by the University of Bedfordshire to review the level of interaction and availability of tools and resources within the VLE.
Summing up, the key benefit of this publication lies in its value as a reference document, enabling us to compare and contrast our approaches to TEL service delivery with other institutional models for service delivery. The UCL and Edinburgh Napier case studies are particularly interesting in this respect, with both institutions reporting on their recent strategy renewal for e-learning services. Edinburgh Napier University has timed the renewal of technology enhanced learning across the institution to coincide with the migration to a new VLE platform (Moodle), with teaching staff encouraged to review their modules using the 3 E framework to guide their thinking on the pedagogic development and the opportunities for student-centred module design. The UCL case study reports on how the institution has responded to student feedback on their perceptions and experiences of e-learning, as well as other drivers related to the increase in tuition fees, NSS results etc., to refresh their e-learning strategy in a stand-alone strategy document, which accompanies the Learning and & Teaching Strategy. The upshot of this approach is a renewed institutional vision for technology-enhanced learning, with a push for departments to develop their own local strategies for how they will embed and use technologies to support student learning.
To access the case studies document and find out more about institutional TEL developments, please go to: http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/~/media/groups/ssg/surveys/TEL%20Survey%202012%20Case%20studies_FINAL
A link to the publication is also available from the main UCISA TEL Survey pages at: http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/bestpractice/surveys/tel.aspx