Last updated: 23.01.13

E-learning 'crucial to effective studying'

Education leaders at universities can improve the quality of their teaching with the use of technology, online platforms and social media.

This is according to writer Russ Thorne, who claimed in an article for the Independent that making learning materials more effective could start with making adjustments to the way institutions use the internet.

He said it may be useful for individuals to create a custom homepage on their website that will allow students to see regular updates from relevant blogs, news channels or other faculties and automatically filter results on to a single page for convenience.

Another good idea is to roll out a virtual learning environment that includes a forum and other necessary resources, which could detail the contents of lectures and seminars and help out students who miss classes due to a clashing timetable.Emma Forest, a PGCE student at Birmingham City University, told the news provider she is able to use a mobile application that directly delivers alerts and notifications to people on course and university-related issues. "I also use the university's online learning site to access further reading and learning material," she added.

Mr Thorne claimed it is critical for university leaders to "go mobile", so students are able to access e-learning anywhere in the world and at any time.

He said it is also wise for young people to frequently engage with others who are either on their course or undertaking similar assignments, so that they avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness while they study. This can be achieved via social media websites such as Twitter or Facebook, where they are free to discuss problems related to their coursework.

Dr Petrina Stevens, alumni representative at the Open University, explained online discussion groups are vital for offering high levels of support, so students must join them.

"Your tutor will probably have other students with whom you can get in touch, too, as they will all experience similar problems," she remarked.

This comes after it was revealed that lecturers at Cardiff Metropolitan University are using online learning to record customised video feedback when marking students' papers.