Robert O'Toole, IT Services elab, University of Warwick
Warwick is a big, diverse, and in many ways decentralised university, that also maintains a strong sense of its own uniqueness. The methods of teaching, learning and research employed within the University reflect these characteristics. We have an academic population who are adept at teaching in the best way possible for their own subject area, and who understand the optimum means for delivering learning to achieve their academic aims. This high degree of specialisation extends as far as differentiations within subjects. And at the same time there definitely is a “Warwick flavour” that runs across much of the University, and that many believe to be of great importance.
The benefits that e-learning may bring to a university, given careful application, are well documented: wider access to more relevant learning content; increased opportunities for interaction; just-in-time personalised learning; repurposing of content; and many more. There is already a wealth of experience in delivering these benefits to centralised and homogeneous institutions, although it must be said that even in these cases the acquisition of a one size fits all Virtual Learning Environment causes difficulties. For e-learning developers at Warwick, we have the more difficult task of providing services that work in the much more complex environment described above.