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Last updated: 09.03.12

Online learning 'could look at business practices'

Educators rolling out e-learning platforms could benefit from analysing the successes and failures of companies that have used this strategy. Director of Glasgow Caledonian University's Caledonian Academy Allison Littlejohn said during a Chat Live discussion hosted and published by the Guardian that oil corporation Shell has been using global knowledge networks in a pioneering manner. She noted her higher education institution has been using similar online learning tools to improve the effectiveness of education for students in the Netherlands and UK. Other examples highlighted by the expert include the Didnet imitative at Strathclyde and Stanford Universities, which has allowed engineering students to share, use and source information and data to help them fulfil a product design brief, as well as the iSpot scheme at the UK's Open University, where the virtual learning environment helps students, the public and professionals share details on botany. Many institutions only use technology to duplicate lectures on the internet, instead of helping course attendees to learn in innovative ways, she continued. Ms Littlejohn pointed to the Massive Open Online Course as "one example of transformational learning" that has been developed. This is decentralised and semi-structured, encouraging people to contribute using social media tools such as blogs and Twitter, she explained. In the same article, Staffordshire University learning development specialist Ben Scoble said virtual learning environments could support traditional models of education by presenting the course to individuals. "The approach matches the confidence and technical skill level of all involved," he said. However, these presentations can be poor on impact and effectiveness if they are not delivered properly, Mr Scoble added. The specialist recommended the technique of "blended learning" and highlighted the University of Glamorgan's Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. According to the university, technology is used across all faculties to ensure innovative and strong education practices, enhanced through modern innovations, are provided throughout the Glamorgan Group.

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