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Overview of e-learning in the UK. Professor Gráinne Conole, University of Southampton Email: g.c.conole@soton.ac.uk NVU –Konferansen 2005, Kaltur for e-elearning Levanger 15-16 th March 2005. Emergence of a research field. Pre-subject area – no perceived interest

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Overview of e learning in the uk

Overview of e-learning in the UK

Professor Gráinne Conole, University of Southampton

Email: g.c.conole@soton.ac.uk

NVU –Konferansen 2005, Kaltur for e-elearning

Levanger 15-16th March 2005

Emergence of a research field

Emergence of a research field

  • Pre-subject area – no perceived interest

  • Beginnings – questions arise

  • Emergence – more researchers

  • Diversification – different schools

  • Establishment – defined community and alignment with other fields

Current status

Current status

  • E-learning - Between stages 3 and 4

    • Influx of researchers into the area

    • Growth of new units and research centres

    • Specialised journals

    • Dedicated conferences

    • Community for fostering debate

Overview of e learning in the uk







Making the connections in

e-learning research

Contextual factors

Contextual factors

  • Funding and policy drivers

  • Cultural dimensions

  • Subject-specific aspects

  • Current hot topics

    • Accessibility

    • Widening participation

    • Lifelong learning

    • E-business

    • Plagiarism, digital rights, IPR

Underpinning technologies

Underpinning technologies

  • New and emerging technologies

    • mobile and ubiquitous

    • intelligent agents

  • Understanding the media

    • multiple forms of representation

    • different characteristics of media

  • A distributed electronic environment

    • standards and interoperability

    • infrastructure and architectures

  • Access to information

    • structuring and distributing information

    • integrating different portals, gateways and resources

    • exploiting the different communication mechanisms

Pedagogical aspects

Pedagogical aspects

  • Student and staff experiences

  • Best methods of

    • representing information

    • Designing and accessing resources

    • encouraging communication and collaboration

    • integrating with other learning and teaching methods

  • Development issues

    • new forms of literacy

    • mechanisms for skills updating and development

  • Understanding the affordances of technologies

  • Exploring the potential for new forms of pedagogy

Organisational issues

Organisational issues

  • Developing models for

    • mapping institutional structures

    • supporting institutional processes

    • sharing knowledge

    • distributing information

    • supporting change

    • engaging different stakeholders

  • Awareness of external factors

  • Understanding changing roles and identities

  • Linking strategy and practice

Common characteristics

Common characteristics

  • Change

  • Political dimension

  • Interdisciplinary

  • Access and inclusion

  • Convergence and interoperability

  • Interactivity



  • The good and the bad of ICT

  • Speed of change

  • New collaborations and discourses

  • User focussed

  • Changing practice

  • Wider impact

Theme i

Theme I

  • The good and the bad of ICT

    • Weblogs, issues of control

    • The affordances of technologies

    • Appropriateness, fit for purpose

    • Ownership vs open source

    • Simplifying the complex

    • Content is king vs information overload

Theme ii

Theme II

  • Speed of change, the Web in 2010

    • Immense amounts of information

    • New tools and resources

    • The Web for nomads

    • Predicting the unpredictable

    • Researching where the light is

    • A world beyond the Web

Theme iii

Theme III

  • Supporting new collaborations and discourses

    • New distributed Communities of Practice

    • Self-sustaining Communities of Practice

    • Interacting with the media

    • Tailored and contextualised

    • Making sense - the power of narrative

Theme iv

Theme IV

  • Harnessing needs, understanding end users

    • Adaptive and personalised

    • Ethnographic approach to users

    • The (semantic) web of meaning

    • Supporting the whole learning cycle

    • Learning objects and reusability

    • Focus on learning activities

Theme v

Theme V

  • Changing practice

    • Reflective research/practitioner

    • Changing roles

    • Passive to interactive technologies

    • Focus on educational objectives

    • Learning design and Communities of Practice

    • How do you motivate people to do this

Theme vi

Theme VI

  • Wider impact

    • New models for society – the adaptive model for Governance

    • Blurring of boundaries

    • Distributed cognition

    • Compelling experience

    • A changing world

    • Technology is here and will continue to have an impact

Discipline issues

Discipline issues

  • Variety of feeder disciplines

    • education research, cognitive psychology, instructional design, computer science, business and management, philosophy, semiotics, critical discourse analysis

  • Benefits

    • wealth of methods and approaches

    • different perspectives

  • Drawbacks

    • no shared language and understanding

    • lack of cohesion to the area

Choice of research methods

Choice of research methods

  • Tension between

    • Focus on evaluation or research

    • Quantitative vs. qualitative approaches

  • Choice of methodologies

    • Has an impact on outcomes

    • Tends to be based on previous experience, favoured methods

  • Approaches

    • Exploring individual case studies

    • Developing generic models

    • Undertaking systematic reviews

    • Applying specific theoretical perspectives

    • Active involvement and action research

Methodological issues

Methodological issues

  • Lack of

    • rigour

    • theoretical basis

    • ‘academic credibility’

  • Tensions

    • between policy makers and practitioners

    • stakeholders with conflicting agendas

    • efficiency gains/effectiveness vs improving learning



  • Changing organisations

    • structures, roles and processes

    • teaching, research and administration

  • Specifics

    • students: impact on learning experience

    • practitioners: exploring the potential

    • support staff: developing reliable services

    • senior management: integrating strategies

Research versus practice


Explore, question

Specific beliefs

Removed from practicalities

Research drivers

Research communities

Defining the area

Too anecdotal


Practical applications


Relevance and role

LT community

New breed

No clear pathway

Dearth higher up

Research versus practice

My research interests

My research interests

  • Learning design

    • DialogPlus project – learning activity toolkit

    • LADIE – Design, construction and use of learning activities

  • Evaluation

    • E-learning materials for in-service teachers in China

    • Online Neonatology course across Europe

    • UK e-university!!!

  • E-assessment

    • TOIA assessment tool

    • Evaluation of e-assessment in Scotland

My research interests1

My research interests

  • Learning theories

    • VEOU online environment for orthopaedic surgeons across Europe

  • Managed learning environments

    • Organisational issues

  • Review of tools for effective practice

  • Research centres

    • E-Learning Research Centre

    • New national centre for research methods



  • Conole, G., (2002), ‘The evolving landscape of learning technology research’, ALT-J 10(3), 4-18

  • Conole, G. (2003), ‘Understanding your organisation’ in the ‘Creating a Managed Learning Environment (or MLE) infoKit’, available at www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk

  • Conole, (2004), ‘Report on the effectiveness of tools for e-learning’, report for the JISC commissioned ‘Research Study on the Effectiveness of Resources, Tools and Support Services used by Practitioners in Designing and Delivering E-Learning Activities’, available at www.cetis.ac.uk:8080/pedagogy

  • Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M., & Seale, J., (2004), ‘Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers and Education, Vol 43, Issues 1-2, 17-33

  • Conole and Dyke, (2004), ‘The affordances of ICT’, ALT-J, 12.2, 113-124

Overview of e learning in the uk1

Overview of e-learning in the UK

Professor Gráinne Conole, University of Southampton

Email: g.c.conole@soton.ac.uk

NVU –Konferansen 2005, Kaltur for e-elearning

Levanger 15-16th March 2005

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