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e-Learning in higher education: challenges and opportunities

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  1. e-Learning in higher education: challenges and opportunities Professor David Dewhurst Director of Educational Information Services College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine University of Edinburgh

  2. What I will cover • e-Learning at the University of Edinburgh • Today’s students • on- and off-campus courses • content creation, virtual patients • VLEs, repositories, (reusable) learning objects • Personal Response Systems – clickers • Web 2.0, 3-D worlds • the role of the learning technologist • Financial crisis • National and international contexts • Collaboration • Open content • Challenges & opportunities

  3. Students • Digital ‘natives’ - start at very early ages <6y • Connected - mobile technologies • Prefer experiential learning - learn by doing • Immediate - just-in-time, just-enough • Social & collaborative - learn informally from others, use social web technologies – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, delicious • Time-constrained • Multi-modal communication • Email and instant messaging rather than oral • communication with images/video - camera phones, Flickr/Youtube • MP3 players, podcasting, YouTube • Web is information universe - Wikis and Blogs, Google Do they know how to learn effectively?

  4. Edinburgh Student Data • 2007 • - 94% of students had a computer • 84% of these were laptops • only 34% brought their laptop to the University (64% in 2008) • Gadgets • 81% had an MP3 player • 4% had a PDA (pre-iphone) • 94% had a mobile phone • 69% had a digital camera • 79% carried a USB memory stick • What are the implications for university computer-labs/teaching facilities?

  5. Academic staff • Content authors , domain experts • Time-poor, strong research focus • Few incentives to prioritise teaching • Often educational skills are not well-developed • need pedagogical support • need staff development • Varying degrees of IT familiarity • need learning technologists but often difficult to engage with them in the most productive manner

  6. Courses • On-campus UG (>600 degree courses), PGT (>300 courses) • blended - enhanced by e-learning • Content delivery & educational processes supported by VLE • Learning resources – web-based materials, virtual patients, assessments, multimedia CALs, • Use of Web 2.0 and Virtual worlds is limited to enthusiasts • 2007-08 Student Numbers • Total: 25,143 • (18,159 UG; 3,524 PGT; 3,460 PGR ) • Medicine & Vet Med:2,133 UG; 338 PGT; 772 PGR – 2008)

  7. Courses • Online Distance Learning Courses • All Masters in niche research areas, mostly 2/3y PT • totally online interaction with content, educational process and tutors • MVM now has 13 online Masters (UoE total = 22) Examples Surgical Sciences Pain Management Clinical Education Translational Medicine Anaesthesia Practice International Animal Health ENID Diseases Equine Science Health Informatics

  8. Course Content • 1985 – 1998 most digital content was multimedia CDROMs • Interactive tutorials • Simulations of experiments • Cases • Teaching & Learning Technology Programme (TLTP £36.7m) UFC 1992-2000 • Developed by ‘production teams’ – not scalable

  9. Course Content • 1995 - 2007 Internet, VLEs, Learning Objects, Repositories, Reusability, • less rich content • often just PowerPoint, lecture notes • Edinburgh – authoring tools EROS, Labyrinth (virtual patients) • Sharing and reusability – JISC X4L [Edinburgh ACETS]; JORUM • Extending the lifetime of multimedia CALs - ReCAL EROS

  10. Virtual Patients • Case-based learning been around for years • Contextualise learning to clinical setting • Edinburgh has numerous examples • Can have lots of linked resources – explanations, animations, quizzes • One variation is to release details in ‘real time’ • Can also present multiple actor scenarios Linear

  11. Virtual Patients • Branching scenarios – learner explores • Good for teaching decision-making skills • Often more difficult to write – Labyrinth, VUE • 3-step process: storyboarding – VUE – Labyrinth • Good for collaborative group work • Potential for automatic assessment Branching

  12. The Virtual Patient concept • Interactive simulation of a real-life clinical scenario • create a character, fictional or otherwise • Identify the learner’s role • Set the scene with an engaging narrative - key to learner engagement and immersion. Within a story the Scenario location may change e.g. home/workplace, doctor’s surgery, hospital • Good for learning: • Clinical skills: history taking; physical examination; ordering tests; interpreting test results; diagnosis and treatment; • Clinical decision making skills

  13. “Setting the Scene” 1. Avatar used to make the patient seem more ‘real’ 2. The student’s role and the location have been identified 3. The character “Lucius” has been introduced 4. The history to the incident and the patient’s current condition described 5. The student has been asked to make clinical decisions based on the information

  14. Advancing the story: revealing information, providing feedback 1. More information has been provided about the patient which the student must interpret 2. Feedback has been provided about the practise of introducing yourself 3. Additional information about the ABCD survey has been provided in a pop-up window

  15. Enriching the story 1. Real images of chest x-rays enrich the learning experience 2. More information provides details of the reasons for choosing an erect Chest X-ray (as opposed to a supine X-ray) 3. External hyperlinks to other sources of information added

  16. Providing feedback for incorrect choices 1. Information has been provided detailing the reasons why the student’s diagnosis was incorrect. 2. New information has been provided about treating the diagnosed condition, even though it is not present in this patient.

  17. The end of the story 1. Avatar shows the patient after discharge. This makes the patient and the outcome seem more ‘real’. 2. The patient’s follow up treatment is summarised.

  18. Virtual Patients – linked resources; release details in ‘real time’

  19. Virtual Patients – multiple actor scenarios

  20. Virtual Patients • UoE & Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh have collaboratively developed an online MSc in Surgical Sciences with a course built around VPs and a wiki knowledgebase of underlying physiology, anatomy and pathology

  21. Storyboarding

  22. Labyrinth

  23. Course Content • 2007 – era of Web 2.0 • Relatively easy for teachers to create ‘fit-for-purpose’ content • Student generated content e.g. weblogs (reflective journals) • Wikis – collaborative creation of content or supplementary lecture information • Social bookmarking (personalised expansion of reading lists and annotation) • Social networking – course discussion, peer learning, teacher led/moderated discussion • Immersive technologies – role-playing, virtual reality • Audio and video – student feedback via MP3 delivered through VLE • iTunesU – educational downloadable lectures, marketing/PR • Youtube, podcasts of lectures, video lectures (lecture capture) What are the implications for VLEs? What is the role of the learning technologist?

  24. Second Life • 2007 – 3D Virtual Worlds • Does this offer real educational opportunities?

  25. Course Content • 2007 – • Personal Response Systems “clickers”

  26. Peer Instruction Question Individual poll Students discuss Re-poll

  27. Support • Central support services • e-Learning – technical and pedagogical support – under-resourced • IT – infrastructure, VLEs, tools, applications • Library – online journals, texts • Repository of (reusable) learning objects – piloted unsuccessfully • Teaching facilities, learning and study spaces, pilot lecture capture • Online Distance Learning Unit • Staff development – how to deliver a good lecture, how to use PRSs • Support for student learning e.g. study skills • School/Faculty/Departmental services • e-Learning – Medicine & Vet Med VLEs, authoring tools, admin tools • IT – servers, teaching spaces • Teaching facilities management – rooms policies, booking • Graphic design – research and teaching support Should these be local or central functions?

  28. Teaching & Learning Spaces

  29. Research Vision &drive Resources Student learners Online Distance Courses (online CPD) On-campus Courses (UG and PGT) Academics Central Support Services Faculty/School/Departmental Support

  30. Current financial climate • Possible loss of key teachers • Demand for university places will increase but fewer students able to afford fees – tuition fees ceiling? • will HEIs offering more flexible study patterns prosper? • Fewer resources for research – endowments, donations, industrial research contracts down • Fewer resources to update platforms/tools or invest in new applications • Fewer resources for staff development • Opportunity to realise the potential of e-learning? • Will it drive collaboration & greater resources sharing? • HEIs poor history of sharing (BioNet, CTIs, TLTP, Jorum) • Will it stimulate a move towards ‘open content’?

  31. e-Learning Collaborations Scotland • CLEO – dental education • Scotland – Malawi Partnership IDF e-learning to support delivery of new curricula in Malawi – Edinburgh, St Andrews, UWS • UoE – Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh – online Masters • UoE – Eastern Europe collaboration – innovative pharmacology teaching UK/International • IVIMEDS, IVIDENT • eLfH • eVIP – St Georges • Medbiquitous – standards and specifications • Prescribe – e-Learning for Clinical Pharmacology and Prescribing BPS & eLfH • JISC/HEA – Open Education Resources

  32. Open Content • Term coined by Wiley 1998 • (usually) digital content • Openly available (discoverable); openly accessible (downloadable) • Editable for reuse • Effective content has pedagogic structure and design (learning activities) to facilitate learning – most doesn’t • MIT Open Courseware Initiative 2001 – content designed to support classroom activities • OpenLearn – OU 2005 – structured content with self-assessment questions and feedback. LabSpace enables materials to be edited • Wikiversity –largely online textbook with content open to peer-rating and review Who resources OER initiatives, what is the financial payback? What is the value of educational IP, who owns the IPR? [Implications for clinical data/patient-identifiable images in medicine] What is the role of the learning technologist?

  33. Challenges and Opportunities • How do we mainstream e-learning? • How do we promote greater staff engagement with e-learning and greater skills/development? • Are there ways to promote more effective collaboration – regional, national, international? • How do we harness Web 2.0 to deliver more creative content development by teachers and students? • What will the next generation VLE look like? • Should content be made freely available – open content? • What is the role of the learning technologist?

  34. Acknowledgements Rachel Ellaway Michael Begg Stewart Cromar Lynne Robertson Jackie Aim Helen Cameron Susan Rhind Pat Warren Simon Bates Sian Bayne Hamish MacLeod Nora Mogey Jeff Haywood Steve Hillier Megan Quentin-Baxter David Byrne David Davies Jim Rennie The Lord Dowding Fund JISC Scottish Government IDF NHS Education Scotland

  35. Thank you for listening David Dewhurst d.dewhurst@ed.ac.uk