Last updated: 24.05.12

Social media 'driving' online learning

The rise of social media and technological advances have made online learning a more viable solution for those who want to take an educational course without being on-campus on a regular basis.

More universities are now offering distance learning courses and lecturer in media and education at Bournemouth University Mark Readman told the Guardian that its new media practice course is specifically aimed towards distance learners.

Students "are supported by online distance learning and Skype tutorials", he explained, adding they meet on campus for a two-day course once a term to discuss ideas face-to-face and "get to grips with the syllabus".

Many establishments use web portals to post learning materials and allow students to upload completed assignments. Blackboard, the system in place at the University of Leicester, gives pupils a place to "interact with each other online", explained director of learning and teaching at the institution Dr Clive Marshall.

He noted pupils are also being proactive and embracing social media sites such as Facebook to share their ideas and problems.

Director of learning, teaching and quality at the Open University (OU) Niall Sclater told the news source distance learning is especially suited to younger students who are moving into higher education straight after finishing sixth form or college, as they are already familiar with the power of social networking and using the web to obtain information.

The OU has approximately 30,000 students under the age of 25 and Wales' education minister Leighton Andrews has called for e-learning to play a greater role in the education of young people in the country.

He said in a speech to the Institute of Welsh Politics that while the OU and the University of Glamorgan are catering to demand, it is disappointing that they seem to be the only establishments in the country to be taking it seriously.