E-Learning is arguably a help in dealing with rising student numbers by opening up opportunities for student-focused, independent learning, as well as distance learning. But it also provokes us to review traditions and conceptions of teaching and learning, to think back to basics of how students learn and to look how alongside subject-based knowledge, e-learning can foster development of students' cognitive abilities as well as their information and communication skills. This, we have chosen to term "research based learning".
The three articles in this chapter (and the one by Nick Mann in chapter 4) all stem from the TELRI project, a three-year, HEFCE funded project led by Warwick, which explored ways in which technology might support 'research-based learning' in different disciplines. In the first article, the TELRI team lay out the aspirations of the project: What cognitive skills we might expect to be developed from an enquiry-based approach to learning and what kinds of e-learning tools and learning activities might support this. The second and third articles offer case studies for TELRI of how these ambitions have been applied to practice.
In recent years, three elements have come together to encourage and embed research based learning in Warwick curricula:
- Educational development projects, professional development programmes and various teaching awards led by CAP all encourage and support academic staff developing research-based learning approaches.
- The arrival of sophisticated tools for web publishing, discussion and reflection, for example a rise in the promotion and use of 'mind tools' such as blogs, wikis and mind mapping software, means that many more projects are exploring how technology can support research-like approaches to learning.
- Consequently, an increased recognition of the value of problem-based, enquiry-led learning activities and the integration of group work (assessed or otherwise).
The URSS and Reinvention Centre are examples of the University promoting the value of undergraduates getting an early grip on the value of research-based approaches. It appears that many academics are changing their approaches to teaching, as evident by the kinds of curriculum development being undertaken.
Developing Research Capabilities through Technology Enhanced Learning
Mick Roach, Paul Blackmore & Jay Dempster, Centre for Academic Practice
First appeared in Interactions Issue 10 Spring 2000
IT, Theatre and Research Based Learning
David Thomas, School of Theatre Studies
First appeared in Interactions Issue 12 Autumn 2000
Enhancing Critical Debate through Web-Based Discussion and Publishing
Helen Dennis, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies & Jay Dempster, Centre for Academic Practice
First appeared in Interactions Issue 11 Summer 2000