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eLearning Why Bother?. Dr Max Jones University of Manchester max.jones@manchester.ac.uk. Challenges. How to improve teaching and learning in large humanities courses with reduced contact hours? How to make seminars more effective? How to support Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)?.

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elearning why bother

eLearning Why Bother?

Dr Max Jones

University of Manchester


  • How to improve teaching and learning in large humanities courses with reduced contact hours?
  • How to make seminars more effective?
  • How to support Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)?
vles strengths i
VLEs - Strengths I
  • Course Outline (& Skills Info) Easily Accessible
  • Improve Access to Secondary Sources
  • Harness Online Resources. Some online resources may only be used on secure Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)
  • Direct Seminar Preparation of Students – Active Learning
  • Provide Framework for GTAs
  • Good for Career Progression
vles strengths ii
VLEs - Strengths II

VLE Tools:

  • Discussion Boards
  • Quizzes
  • Essay Submission & Feedback
  • Plagiarism Checker
  • “Wiki” Tool
  • Podcasts
  • Surveys
vles weaknesses
VLEs - Weaknesses
  • Substantial initial investment of time
  • Hidden workload maintaining VLE
  • Reliance on technology beyond your control
  • Perception that new technology is intended to replace contact with staff
  • Humanities students become overly reliant on online resources, and don’t learn how to use library
  • Rigid Framework?
  • Staff Resistance

Revamp Level 2 Modern British History course – c.120-students.

1 lecture + 1 seminar per week.

Students must complete a “Seminar Worksheet” before each seminar

seminar worksheet
Seminar Worksheet

Single A4 Sheet with 4-6 questions.

The questions direct students’ engagement with assigned primary and secondary sources.

Students email a copy of worksheet to GTA before each weekly seminar.

seminar 6 the people s war 1939 45
Seminar 6. The People’s War?: 1939-45.
  • How does Rose explain the particular anxieties provoked by “good-time girls” in wartime Britain?
  • Why does Rose believe inter-racial sex provoked particular tensions?
  • Choose one example from the article, which you could use in an essay to illustrate Rose’s argument.
  • How could you use Fires Were Started to support or challenge Rose’s argument?
  • How is the period 1914-39 presented in the Labour Party manifesto?
  • How does the manifesto describe the Labour party’s attitude towards “freedom”?
questionnaire results
Questionnaire Results

‘The material available on-line significantly enhanced my learning’

Mean score of 1.81

Highest score of 140 UG course units with over 30 students in 2007-08

online survey 1
Online Survey 1

‘I learned more in my weekly seminar, if I had completed a Seminar Worksheet’,

  • 38 ‘Agree’
  • 7 ‘Mostly Agree’
  • 6 ‘Neither Agree nor Disagree’
  • 3 ‘Mostly Disagree’
  • 5 ‘Disagree’