E-learning 'helps students get deeper understanding'
Virtual learning environments are originally a neutral academic space in the same way as a traditional classroom is. This is according to Rosie Miles, a senior lecturer in English at the University of Wolverhampton, who pointed out in a Guardian article that "it's what you do in them that matters". She highlighted Victorian literature courses that she teaches as evidence of the power of online learning tools, noting assessed discussion forum activities receive enthusiastic participation, with 100 per cent of the module's students using them. Using the internet to assist in education enables learners to reach areas of research and reflection that would not be attainable within a seminar. Face-to-face classes are utilised to encourage attendees to take an investigation into a particular topic into more in-depth areas over the web, the specialist remarked. E-learning enables students to understand the characters in a piece of literature in a more thorough manner than would be permissible in a classroom, she noted. "In a discussion forum my entire class of 30 students can all 'be' one of the characters from Charles Dickens' Bleak House, and, in character, debate the motion 'This house believes the law is an ass'," Ms Miles suggested. This requires them to become familiar with the novel in the way she wants them to, while enabling the creative, playful and lucid learning that has an important place in the study of English, she added. It is important for educators to consider how online training tools can enable them to teach their class in ways that would be impossible in the classroom, the expert argued. For the last two years, Ms Miles said she has been advocating the use of blended learning, using face-to-face academia alongside online learning tools. However, she recently noted in her blog at msmentor.co.uk that it is important for educators to feel free to find out what does and does not work when implementing e-learning in their teaching.