Technologies and learning environments: the mother of invention, or the mother of all problems

M. McAteer, L. Martin

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are now a widely recognised feature of educational provision. The perception that they can transform learning and teaching, promote diversity, widening participation and social inclusion has seen them used in a variety of ways: to support distance learners, act as a simple repository for resources, provide a space in which to grow a community of practice and practice development, and in other ways meet the diverse needs of a range of learners. Platforms that facilitate e-learning, for example, Blackboard and Moodle are found in many higher education institutions to the extent that e-learning is now considered 'mainstream' and is no longer the preserve of enthusiasts or 'early adopters', (Mayes, 2001; Hunter et al, 2005). This paper presents an interim report of an exploration of participants' experiences when using an alternative virtual space, GoogleGroups. Initially chosen to accommodate the needs of a busy tutor during a period of institutional transition from WebCT to Blackboard, the GoogleGroup's potential to host an alternative virtual learning space was attractive in the flexibility it provided the tutor, and the ease with which a dynamic learning environment could be created and customised at short notice. The study sample was a single, small cohort of four students experiencing tuition and support on the compulsory Research Methods module of an MA Education programme and their tutors. An ethnographic approach was chosen to illuminate the experience of learning with GoogleGroups. The participants' own voice is allowed to describe how they learned with this particular technology and their perceptions of their use of this technology. The paper will conclude with an evaluation of the fitness for purpose of GoogleGroups as an e-learning tool in this context and a discussion of how the study's findings will inform future iterations of the module and indeed, our wider practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventSOLSTICE conference - Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Jun 2010 → …


    ConferenceSOLSTICE conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Period3/06/10 → …


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