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2. Learning Environment

2.1 Managed learning Environment

2.2 Virtual Learning Environment

2.3 Components of the learning environment

2.4 Distance Learning

2.5 Pastoral Responsibilities

2.1 Managed Learning Environment

2.11 Definition and Policy

The JISC website2 explains the concept of an MLE as follows:

‘The JISC MLE Steering Group has said that the term Managed Learning Environment (MLE) is used to include the whole range of information systems and processes of a college (including its VLE if it has one) that contribute directly, or indirectly, to learning and the management of that learning.’

The University is committed to the development of a Managed Learning Environment, as an appropriate way to make effective and efficient use of communications and information technology to support and enhance student learning.

2.12 Student portal

The student portal system, which gives students personalised access to appropriate administrative data and learning and teaching resources, will be developed and extended to become the primary vehicle through which students interact with the electronic resources associated with their degree programmes.

These will include:

The portal system will, in time, develop into a component of a fully managed learning environment.

The University will work towards the student portal, and the resources accessed through it, being available to all students, irrespective of their geographical location, physical location or time zone.

2.1.3Administrative Systems

The University will continue to enhance and integrate its corporate systems, particularly the Student Record and Timetabling Systems, to support the management and administration of learning and teaching and to facilitate the efficient and effective use of course and student data.

Systems for electronic registration and student monitoring will be developed and possibilities for electronic advising will be explored.

2.2 Virtual Learning Environment

2.2.1 Definition:

According to JISC2, the term Virtual Learning Environment (VLE):

‘is used to refer to the “online” interactions of various kinds which take place between learners and tutors. The JISC MLE Steering Group has said that VLE refers to the components in which learners and tutors participate in “online” interactions of various kinds, including online learning’

The JISC definition also provides the following list of VLE components:

2.2.2 Policy

Aberdeen University currently has two major non-competing VLEs – WebCT and the Medi-CAL Resource Centre (the latter supporting the MBChB curriculum).

The University will continue to provide (as it presently does through WebCT and the Medi-CAL unit) VLE software that will be available to all staff. Staff will be strongly encouraged to use this software to support their teaching.

As an absolute minimum, all courses should be supported by a course management page, which is fully accessible and contains the following information or links:

Course outline

These pages will be linked to the student portal (see 2.1.2 above).

Where appropriate, the other components of the VLE (such as computer aided assessment, discussion tools, collaboration tools, and on-line submission of assignments) will be used to enhance the student learning experience.

2.3 Components of the learning environment

2.3.1 Interactive Courseware and Simulations (‘Computer Aided Learning’)

The use of new technology such as interactive courseware and simulations enables:

Staff will therefore be supported in implementing this technology, as outlined in section 9.3.1 and section 9.3.2.

2.3.2 Computer Aided Assessment

The University recognises that computer aided assessment has the following benefits:

The University will support staff in the development and implementation of computer aided assessment techniques, through processes outlined in section 9.3.1 and section 9.3.2.

2.3.3 Computer mediated communication

E-mail

The principal method of written communication with students will be via University e-mail. It will be the responsibility of students to check their University e-mail regularly. The students will be informed of this responsibility as part of the induction process.

Staff will be responsible for informing students of the frequency with which to expect to receive e-mail associated with a particular course.

The University Registry will periodically issue guidance on how often students should check their e-mail for messages associated with the administration of their degree programme.

On-Line Conferencing

On-line conferencing will be encouraged to facilitate group working, encourage student discussion and support flexible access to learning activities.

Other

The University will keep abreast of new technology developments and, where appropriate, investigate their potential to enhance communication with students.

2.3.4 e-Portfolios and Personal Development Planning

Personal Development Planning (PDP) is ‘a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to:

Personal Development Planning encourages autonomous learning, student monitoring and support, and positive attitudes to learning and professional development. PDP thus benefits the institution through student recruitment and retention, enhanced graduate employability, and enhanced learning outcomes.

e-Portfolios are learner centred, portable, electronic media and services for describing learning achievement and Personal Development Planning. The University will provide access to e-Portfolios along with structured support for PDP.

The University will monitor interoperability development across sectors to ensure compatibility with secondary, FE, HE, and employers’ systems, and UCAS admissions and web based review processes.

The University will look for opportunities which will allow interoperability between systems which would enhance the value of the e-Portfolio to the student (for example examination marks from Computer Aided Assessment being fed directly in to the e-Portfolio).

2.4 Distance Learning

Distance learning courses or programmes are those which are designed to provide learning off campus with few aspects, if any, being delivered on campus. Distance learning can be supported through online learning environments.

The University will develop those courses into a distance learning format for which there is an identified market need and the necessary resources. Delivery of distance learning courses and programmes may be co-ordinated at School or College level (as presently done by the School of Education) or as part of the University’s portfolio of distance courses administered by the Centre for Lifelong Learning (or its named successor). The development of distance learning initiatives will be supported by named and resourced internal agencies (presently including the Centre for Lifelong Learning and the Centre for Learning and Teaching) who will give pedagogic and technical assistance.

2.5 Pastoral Responsibilities

The use of C&IT in teaching, learning and administration should be seen as providing opportunities for more effective use of direct staff contact with students. All processes must be supported by appropriate personal interaction, in order to minimise the possibility of alienation, and to ensure that pastoral responsibilities to students are met.

2. See http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=mle_briefings_1

3. Taken from QAA “Guidelines for HE Progress Files” Concept arising out of Dearing’s (1997) recommendation 20.

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