Keywordse-Learning Development Strategy
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AbstractIt would be easy to read a review like this and be overwhelmed by the “to do” lists, accounts of barriers to progress and lack of positive comment. However that is in the nature of being asked to provide recommendations for the future; such recommendations are bound to be focused around improvements. Nevertheless our abiding impression is that much has already been achieved by the Online Learning Project at CAFRE; a surprising amount given the resources available. There are a number of examples where teaching staff have produced innovative and effective elearning materials, CE6 has been implemented and is running well and there is an enthusiastic core of staff who have the capability to take online learning forward. Obviously there are problems to be overcome, but there is a solid platform on which to build. In the medium term (the next three years) the greatest gain will be through consolidation and extension of what is already in place. The current system has plenty of spare capacity and the overall functionality of CE6 has not yet been fully exploited. So the immediate message is to make the best use of what we already have. As is often the case making the best use of what is already in place is not a matter of technological appreciation but of designing learning and teaching activities to create technology enhanced learning environments which benefit all students and staff. This requires high quality staff development particularly in online learning pedagogy. Simply doing what we have always done but with a bit more technology is not going to result in major advances. But many of these developments are relatively straightforward ones and staff and students are already aware of them. Some simple things done well and consistently will repay effort greatly. However the most cost effective mechanism for promoting development of the online learning environment would be a ‘Champion’ at the senior management level. Someone who could provide encouragement and reassurance to the staff and who would ensure that minor obstacles do not cause a major block to progress. In the longer term e-learning must be seen as more than deployment of CE6, and as involving the use of a wide range of interoperating applications, from email and the provision of course information at the most basic to video, simulations and collaborative learning environments at the most complex. A wide choice of elearning tools is needed to satisfy an increasingly diverse population of learners studying many different subjects at an increasing range of levels. Delivery to a more diverse population will throw the questions of how to exploit wireless networks and mobile computing into sharp relief. Indeed a strategic view of network development in general is perhaps the most vital component of a longer term e-learning strategy at CAFRE.