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Learning from the UKeU experience

By Gráinne Conole, Annamaria Carusi and Maarten de Laat


No full text available from the Leicester Research Archive (LRA).The UKeU represents the most important foray into e-learning yet undertaken. Its early demise sounds a warning note to all of us involved in e-learning. It is important that we learn from this experience so as not to replicate its mistakes, but also not to allow its failure on some levels to drown out the enormous potential and good practice which it instituted on other levels. \ud \ud The paper will present some of the initial findings of a series of studies documenting the UKeU approach to and experience of e-learning. It will focus on the experiences and lessons learned of members of the learning technology team within the UKeU, or people working closely with them. Our particular interest is to describe the various roles and approaches to e-learning. The paper will critique the relationships of power and identity between the different stakeholders involved in the experience and the associated impact on culture. In particular we will explore the relationship between the documented UkeU vision and how this was instantiated and its impact on practice. The paper will also explore the roles of the different stakeholders, their perceptions of the project and their inter-relationship. One of the most important findings of the research is the mismatch between those with more of a business-orientated vision for UKeU and those more interested in the academic aspects and the potential educational innovation. \ud \ud The study is based on two data sources: interviews and a study of documents. A clear set of contrasts has become apparent from these two data sources. The documents focused upon have been those which attempt to set out the framework in which the UKeU would operate, and are future-oriented, aspirational documents. The interviews instead are past-oriented and allow us to trace how those aspirations were put into practice, or - in many cases - not. \ud \ud The themes which emerged as significant will be described. The most important contextual factors that led to the founding of the UKeU were the desire to remain a global player and the perceived need to create a united front for UK HE. In the face of developments in the global e-learning market, there was a concern that if the UK did not make a strong presence, it would lose out to competitors. The UKeU would unite HEIs, thereby creating more of an impact together than any of them could hope to create individually. It was predicted that there was an enormous market for higher education e-learning courses, and that the enterprise, though needing to be subsidised initially, would soon (within 5-6 years) be profit-making. \ud \ud The over-riding approach to e-learning taken by the learning team was based on constructivist principles and collaborative learning, activity-based learning, student-centred learning and pedagogical flexibility. The documentation demonstrates a clear aspiration to break the mould of traditional learning methods, to be forward-looking in pedagogical approaches, and fully to actualise the potential of technology to revolutionise learning. This vision of e-learning also informed the design and development of the platform. It was in instituting this vision that relationships with other HEIs as well as with Sun come to the fore, and indeed the material from interviews is particularly rich on this topic. Although interviewees generally described themselves as having the approach described, they were also sensitive to the need not to impose this on institutions. In spite of this, the UKeU approach to e-learning sometimes strained relationships with HEIs, either because they were already experienced in e-learning and did not want to adopt the UKeU view, or because they did not fully appreciate the need to break out of traditional face-to-face teaching techniques. At other times, it was a positive experience, in which the collaboration between led to good results

Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9861
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