Online Learning and Its Users: Lessons for Higher Education re-examines the impact of learning technologies in higher education. The book focuses particularly on the introduction and mainstreaming of one of the most widely used, the virtual learning environment (VLE) or learning management system (LMS). The book presents an activity theoretic analysis of the VLE's adoption, drawing on research into this process at a range of higher education institutions. Through analysis and discussion of the activities of managers, lecturers, and learners using the VLE, lessons are identified to inform future initiatives including the implementation of massive open online courses (MOOCs). A replicable research design is included and explained to support evaluation and analysis of the use of online learning in other settings. The book questions accepted views of the place of technologies in higher education, arguing that there has been a repeated cycle of hype and disappointment accompanying the development of online learning. While much research has documented this cycle, finding new strategies to break it has proved to be a more difficult challenge. Why has technology not made more impact? Are lecturers going to be left behind by their own students in the use of digital technologies? Why have we seen costly and time-consuming failures? This book argues that we can answer these questions by heeding the lessons from previous experiences with the VLE and early iterations of the MOOC. More importantly, we can begin to ask new and different questions for the future to ensure better outcomes for our institutions and ultimately our learners.
Claire McAvinia is a Learning Development Officer at the Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC) in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Ireland. Her current role involves teaching on DIT's Postgraduate Diploma in Third Level Learning and Teaching, MSc in Applied eLearning and MA in Higher Education, also contributing to CPD modules and academic development workshops, curriculum development, research, and supervision of Master's and doctoral students. Claire has worked as an educational technologist and academic developer in Ireland and the UK since 1998, gaining extensive experience in the integration of new technologies in teaching and learning in a wide range of settings. She holds a BA in French and English from Trinity College Dublin, and MA in Applied Language Studies from the University of Kent. Claire has completed Postgraduate Certificates in education at University College London and the UK Open University, and was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin in 2011.
Introduction Chapter 1. Enter the VLE Chapter 2. Challenges and Disappointments Chapter 3. Activity Theory Chapter 4. Lessons for e-Learning Management and Support Chapter 5. Lessons for Teaching in Higher Education Chapter 6. Lessons From Our Learners Chapter 7. Learning to Break the Cycle Chapter 8. Lessons for the Future - The VLE and the MOOC Chapter 9. Conclusions