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Title: A case study of the institution-wide implementation of a managed learning environment
Author: Alltree, Jonathan Richard
ISNI:       0000 0001 3417 8649
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2008
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Recent years have seen a marked increase in the use of Virtual Learning Environments and Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) across the UK Higher Education sector. The university at the centre of this research took an institutional approach to the implementation of its MLE. This case study examines that implementation against the backdrop of the increasing use of technolqgy to support learning, the impact of technology upon pedagogy in a range of academic disciplines and the strategic approach to managing change. The case study draws upon a range of quantitative and qualitative data sources, the most significant of which were semi-structured interview~ with 23 teachers from the university's six academic faculties. The framework for analysis was an adaptation of Bronfenbrenner's ecological model (Bronfenbrenner1979) in which the implementation was examined in different, interconnected settings - the microsetting (the individual teacher's practice), the mesosetting (the institution) and the macrosetting (the sector). At the level of the individual participant, the majority were enhancing the student learning experience by using the MLE to 'extend the classroom'. This did not, however, involve a substantive change to the underlying pedagogical approach. A small minority were, however, using the technology specifically to enhance the face-to-face learning experience of their students - either by 'doing things differently' or 'doing different things'. These ideas open up the way for future thinking on pedagogic approaches. At the institutional level, there had been a transformative, second order change in the use of technology by staff and students. This had been achieved through a multifaceted approach to change involving institutionally steered but locally set usage targets, local champions, staff development and an MLE that had been developed with ease-of-use as a high priority. The implementation also drew on the experience of innovators to inform the development and roll out of the MLE. The use of the MLE was more concerned with enhancement of the student learning experience than increasing flexibility in when and where students learn - this has been identified as an important future challenge. At sector level, the implementation was judged against five of the measures of success outlined in HEFCE's e-Iearning strategy (HEFCE 2005). In general, it was argued that the institution had performed well in relation to these measures, although the reuse of resources remains a challenge. The issue of increasing flexibility is another sector challenge, particularly with reports such as Leitch (2006) identifying the need for an increase in work-based learning. New pedagogies and new technologies, such as virtual classrooms, can provide some solutions to the challenges facing the sector. Further work is needed to determine how best to exploit synergies between online and face-to-face learning opportunities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available