New Research from LTTC

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Claire McAvinia from the LTTC has published Online Learning and its Users: Lessons for Higher Education, a book based on her doctoral research.

The book re-examines the impact of learning technologies in higher education focusing particularly on the introduction and mainstreaming of one of the most widely used, the virtual learning environment (VLE) or learning management system (LMS). The text 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.

Key Points

  • presents institution-wide analysis of the adoption of a key educational technology for higher education, validated across multiple sites, to support deeper understanding of the use of learning technologies in context
  • describes Activity Theory and presents a replicable model to operationalise it for investigations of the use of online learning in higher education and other settings
  • provides a unique perspective on the historical experience of VLE adoption and mainstreaming to identify important insights and essential lessons for the future

Further details are available from the Chandos Elsevier website.

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