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The VLE as a Transformational Technology. David Ball. Summary. Student use of electronic resources The e-book explosion Virtual learning environments (VLEs): challenges and opportunities. The Digital Natives. The average 21-year-old has: Spent 5,000 hours video-gaming

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The VLE as a Transformational Technology

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The vle as a transformational technology

The VLE as a Transformational Technology

David Ball



  • Student use of electronic resources

  • The e-book explosion

  • Virtual learning environments (VLEs): challenges and opportunities

The digital natives

The Digital Natives

The average 21-year-old has:

  • Spent 5,000 hours video-gaming

  • Sent 250,000 emails/messages

  • Spent 10,000 hours on a mobile ‘phone

  • Spent 3,000 hours online

    “ Their preference is for sharing, staying connected, instantaneity, multi-tasking, assembling random information into patterns, and using technology in new ways.” - Marc Prensky

The digital immigrants

The Digital Immigrants

Are less likely to have:

  • An iPod or equivalent

  • Posted material on the web

  • Created a blog or profile on MySpace

  • Downloaded content such as music, film

  • Taken a picture with a mobile ‘phone

Student use of e resources

Student Use of E-Resources

  • Tenopir’s survey of surveys shows drivers:

    • Young users inhabiting electronic world

    • Convenience – desk top, speed, save/print

  • Health science library usage:

    • 28,000 full text downloads; 1800 uses of print

  • Bournemouth University:

    • 128% rise in full-text downloads over 4 years

    • Heavy undergraduate use of journal articles

    • 72% of nursing students’ last access from home

Bournemouth statistics

Bournemouth Statistics

Virtual learning environments

Virtual Learning Environments

“The components in which learners and tutors participate in ‘online’ interactions of various kinds, including online learning”

  • Controlled access to curriculum

  • Tracking student activity and achievement

  • Support of on-line learning

  • Communication between the learner, the tutor and others

  • Links to other administrative systems

Vle as a transformational technology

VLE as a Transformational Technology

  • Digital natives

  • Digital learning environment

  • Interactions with lecturers, other learners and administrators will be increasingly by electronic means

  • Core learning resources created by lecturers will be available through VLE

  • Students’ expectation will be for all learning resources to be so

  • MyBU

Challenges for the profession

Challenges for the Profession

Studies show little integration of library resources into VLEs

  • Infiltrate resources into VLEs

  • Exploit VLE functionality

  • Develop procurement practice

    • E-books

    • Non-traditional learning resources

  • Develop information architecture

E books


  • Existing heavy use of e-journals by undergraduates

  • Electronic medium the norm for students’ social and leisure pursuits

  • Electronic medium becoming primary in HE

  • Need for e-books

E books problems and obstacles

E-Books: Problems and Obstacles

  • Lack of a clear open standard for operating systems;

  • Fears about the protection of content and the rights of the content owner in the context of giving users flexibility;

  • Lack of appropriate content in suitable quantities;

  • Pricing of titles, software and hardware;

  • Lack of integration into the general market for books. (Herther)

E books current developments

E-Books: Current Developments

  • Google Book Project:

    • California, Complutense of Madrid, Harvard, Michigan, New York Public Library, Oxford, Stanford

    • Scan and digitise 16m volumes

  • MSN and BL – 100,000 volumes

  • Apple:

    • iPod book reader

    • Agreement on content with publisher

Supc e books tender

SUPC E-Books Tender

  • Developing market place

  • Virtual Learning Environments

  • Fluid business models

    • Mimic hard-copy business models

    • Trend towards bundling/Big Deal

  • Avoid what happened with e-journals

    • Publishers determined business models

    • Price tied to historical hard-copy spend

Preparing the specification

Preparing the Specification

Aim to provide agreements that:

  • Were innovative and flexible

  • Exploited the electronic medium fully

  • Focused on users’ needs not libraries’

  • Encouraged the addition of library-defined content

    Two distinct requirements:

  • Requirement A – a hosted e-book service from which institutions can purchase or subscribe to individual titles

  • Requirement B – a hosted e-book service of content that is specified by the institutions

E textbooks


  • Obvious advantages for libraries: no multiple copies or SLCs, staff savings

  • BUT 80% of publishers’ textbook revenue is from individuals - not available

  • One aggregator has offered e-textbooks direct to students at 50% of list price

Contract award

Contract Award

  • Requirement A: Ebrary and Proquest Safari

    • Offer innovative models, value for money, flexibility and academic content of interest to members

    • Exploit electronic medium in terms of granularity and multi-user access

  • Requirement B: Ebrary

    • Flexibility and willingness to work openly

    • Textbooks model

First six months

First Six Months

  • Impressed with both suppliers

  • Gradual uptake, due to timing of budgets

  • Student usage of collections much wider than anticipated; Ebrary functionality particularly liked

  • Good progress towards nursing core collection

    • Nearly all top publishers signed up

    • Business models for textbooks being developed

Non traditional resources

Non-Traditional Resources

  • Lecturer’s/course team’s content

  • Course-pack readings

  • Course materials from other universities

    • Open access (e.g. MIT)

    • Subscribed

  • Commercial content designed for VLEs

    • Mediated by Blackboard

    • Open market

Rights management issues

Rights Management Issues

  • Who owns what rights – lecturers, university, publisher…?

  • Number of courses, students, years, campuses?

  • Can you repurpose? Export? Franchise? Sell?

  • More complex than a book on a shelf, or an e-journal package

Integrating into the vle 1

Integrating into the VLE - 1

Pathways to information:

  • VLE as one-stop-shop

  • Use of library catalogues/portals will decline

  • Embed/link to resources at point of need

  • Encourage use of wide variety of resources

  • Re-engineer information architecture

Integrating into the vle 2

Integrating into the VLE - 2

Interaction with students:

  • Exploit VLE functionality and structures

  • Integrate into courses, units at point of need

  • Use quizzes, discussion boards

  • Virtual classroom for remote students

Integrating into the vle 3

Integrating into the VLE - 3

Interaction with staff

  • Use organisations/groups to target particular staff – departments, subjects, research interests

  • Internally created resources maximised by content management system

  • Staff development



Position libraries for the VLE age by:

  • Maximising electronic availability

  • Influencing content aggregators

  • E-textbooks move us closer to completely electronic provision

  • Integrating resources and exploiting the new functionality

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