The Role of Virtual Learning Environments in the Online Delivery of Staff Development

Report 1: Review of Experiences of Delivering TALiSMAN Online Courses

Colin Milligan
Institute for Computer Based Learning, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14-4AS
November 1998

email: colin@icbl.hw.ac.uk
URL: http://www.icbl.hw.ac.uk/jtap-573


0   OVERVIEW
Computer networks provide the flexibility necessary for successful delivery of education and training in a learning society. Exploiting these networks with new communications technologies can enhance the quality of network based learning, if properly conceived and implemented. Learners can study in their own time, at their own pace and choose their own course, whilst feeling part of a virtual learning community rather than isolated learners.

For two years, the SHEFC funded TALiSMAN project has provided a programme of training and awareness to enable staff at Scottish Higher Education Institutions to benefit from the Metropolitan Area Networks which link them. A significant part of this programme (>600 training places) has been delivered online.

Here we describe two alternative approaches to delivering online staff development which we have followed. The report will discuss our experiences of these two approaches and highlight issues inherent in the design and delivery of staff development programmes online. We will recommend ways of maximising the learning experience whilst retaining a flexible and scalable delivery structure.

A second report of this project will extend these findings and discuss the suitability and potential role of commercial and freely available Virtual Learning Environments in the delivery of online staff development programmes.

CONTENTS
1 Background
2 Our Approaches
3 Course Review
4 Findings and Lessons Learned
5 Synthesis and Conclusions
6 References
7 Appendices


Colin Milligan, ICBL, November 1998 - JTAP-573
Comments to patrick@icbl.hw.ac.uk - colin@icbl.hw.ac.uk - © Heriot-Watt University 1999