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Editorial: Developing e-Learning Courses

Jay Dempster, Centre for Academic Practice, University of Warwick

This issue of Interactions – now in the new CAP web site colours - takes the broad theme of “Developing E-Learning Courses”. It focuses on aspects of curriculum design, technology delivery platforms and course content development that involves a significant ICT dimension, both to support classroom-based activities and distance courses. Two departmental accounts are offered of the planning and practices involved in developing courses to be delivered wholly or partially online. These aim to provide a useful set of 'lessons learned' to others considering such ventures.

In the first article, Amanda Dowd, Academic Director of Graduate Studies in the Warwick Manufacturing Group, offers a historical account of experiences in using different e-learning environments to support postgraduate courses. The article describes some of the drivers for moving to a technology-assisted approach and offers useful lessons learned based on a reflection of the potentials and pitfalls of a number of e-approaches explored by WMG. 

The second article is by Loredana Polezzi, Chair in Italian Studies at Warwick. She describes the experiences over the last several years of developing the use of e-learning in language courses. The account illustrates a gradual shift from resource (CAL) type packages to integrated content and communications tools. She indicates the way in which advances in the available technologies has substantially both changed working practices generally and changed thinking about course design. The article outlines the growing sophistication with which e-learning developments have been used to support more critical and analytical learning activities leading to new approaches to building in ‘research’ and ‘originality’ into undergraduate studies The significance of these changes is that courses are developed co-operatively in the department and designed from the outset with e-learning as an integral component of a student-centred curriculum.

A third article is contributed by a group at the Welsh Enterprise Institute in the Glamorgan Business School considering how access to educational technology resources can support enterprise learning in distance learning courses. The authors describe the nature of e-learning enterprise schemes for individuals and communities to develop the “tools of entrepreneurship”. It tackles in particular issues to do with local access and widening participation, enterprise education, regional partnerships and community economic growth.

The Innovations section includes short summaries of new approaches being explored by Warwick staff and departments.

The Related resources section provides termly updates on central e-learning support and further sources of guidance and experiences relating to the issue theme.


Dr Jay Dempster
Head of Educational Technology
Centre for Academic Practice
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7652 4670

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