1.0 Introduction to research background
This chapter will provide the background for the research to be conducted highlighting the problems, aims and objectives, research overview with the research questions, proposed methodologies and the structure of the final report of the research to be conducted.
E-learning is one of the fastest growing technologies. The educational institutes and business organizations are utilizing the potentiality of growing technological opportunities to achieve their organizational goals being more competitive. Each institute or organization has adopted individual technological tools. To support learning and teaching, University of Huddersfield has implemented Blackboard Learning System as a tool to support e-learning and enhance traditional learning. Often e-learning is strongly connected with Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) developed as part of e-learning development process.
1.1 Problem Statement
University of Huddersfield has implemented e-learning technology Blackboard Learning System as its Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This has allowed students and staff to access the course materials and the required academic information using the internet. However, very less attempts have been made to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the Blackboard at University of Huddersfield. The University of Huddersfield was one of the oldest institutions to adopt the e-learning technologies and it can be considered as the first institution to use Blackboard Learning system in the United Kingdom. University of Huddersfield (2008).
University has planned and developed a strategy for implementing e-learning with the use of latest technologies. This has been planned in order to support student learning experience making basis of sound pedagogical values and principles. The university’s vision about its e-learning strategy as a supporting technological tool rather than replacing the whole technology. To what extent, the implementation of Blackboard Learning System as a Virtual Learning Environment has been successful? What are the achievement rates of learning using them locally, nationally and internationally? How do students perceive about learning using VLEs? How do tutors perceive using VLE’s in designing and delivering the course material? These questions are keys for the further developed and should be critically examined and findings upon them should be analyzed and evaluated.
1.2 Description of Client and its Strategy
Figure 1.1: “An e-learning strategy for the University of Huddersfield 2008-2013” (University of Huddersfield, 2008)
The University of Huddersfield has developed its Teaching and Learning Strategy with a vision as follows:
“Teaching and learning will be part of making Huddersfield an inspiring, innovative University of international renown.”
It has set its aims as “to deliver inspirational teaching and learning, to provide opportunities for all who can benefit and to produce employable and enterprising graduates.” University of Huddersfield (2011). It has focused in aiming to implement “highly distinctive professionally-oriented practice and research-based teaching and learning, supportive and accessible to all who can benefit, and complementary to the Research and Enterprise agenda, ensuring innovation and inspiration in the student experience, student satisfaction, and positive career outcomes.”
(University of Huddersfield, 2011)
Teaching and learning is the key role of any university and being innovative, inspiring and making the University of Hudderfield known internationally has been the vision of the university. To be able to give right and consistent direction to its vision, the quality should be maintained. Quality can be achieved by constant evaluation and review and improvement on the services and products. Total Quality Management (TQM) is one of the key subject area in the field of management which is often highly focused by each organization whether it may be related to sell any products or providing services in educational area. Stakeholders of the business are also interested in measuring the performance using key performance indicator (KPI) which are related to critical success factors (CSFs). Hence, research in evaluating e-learning technologies with the evaluation of Blackboard can help find its effectiveness to assist the management, all the faculties or departments using e-learning for teaching and learning and rest of the stakeholders to make the right decisions.
1.3 Research Overview
In the past 15 years, University of Huddersfield has developed its e-learning infrastructure with the use of current technology. Blackboard Learning System has been widely used by the students and teachers. There are other existing systems in different area of e-learning. It is essential to that review of this system is needed to find out how effective it is compared to traditional system. The key research questions for this project will as follows:
I. To what extent Blackboard as an e-learning tool has helped to improve students’ learning?
II. To what extent Blackboard as an e-learning tool has helped to improve teaching?
III. To what extent Blackboard relate to the traditional learning approaches, theories and model?
IV. How can pedagogical pattern be improved with the use of Blackboard as e-learning tool using Web 2.0 tools?
Research Question 1(RQ1): How has it helped in pedagogy?
Research Question 2(RQ2): Has it improved the distance learning system and blended system?
Research Question 3(RQ3): How satisfied are the students and teacher using this kind of technology?
Research Question 4(RQ4): What are the challenges remaining?
Research Question 5(RQ5): What are the main current debates in the use of Virtual Learning Environment?
Research Question 6(RQ6): What recommendations can be made for improving teaching and learning using Blackboard Learning System at University of Huddersfield?
A thorough research will be carried out to answer these questions. The main purpose of this research is to identify them and to explore the relationship between the learning model and Blackboard learning system in evaluating its effectiveness at University of Huddersfield.
1.4 Aims and Objectives
The main aim of my project is to evaluate critically the effectiveness of the implementation Blackboard Learning system as a tool for e-learning and provide recommendations to the management board of university of Huddersfield. The different areas of e-learning will be identified. The related theories and principles associated with the implementation of e-learning technologies will be used for evaluation. The effectiveness will be evaluated to find the following the following research questions.
To evaluate and analyse to what extent e-learning technologies such as use of Blackboard System has been effective from teaching, learning, administrative and social point of view among the different mode of teaching such as Distance Learning, Collaborative Learning and Blended Learning at University of Huddersfield in the past 15 years.
To develop newer approach which can help improve the learning and teaching strategies at University of Huddersfield.
Figure 1.2: Mind Map of the Objectives
- To explore into the different aspects of e-learning including the learning theories, approaches and the models and different models of learning.
- To review briefly the current situation of e-learning technologies for Higher Education in UK.
- To relate Blackboard Learning System as an e-learning tool supporting in different stages of learning.
- To identify and explore students perception about learning using Blackboard Learning System at University of Huddersfield.
- To explore and evaluate Blackboard Learning System from teaching point of view.
- To determine whether the quality of the learning and teaching has been enhanced using Blackboard Learning System.
- To provide recommendations on improving teaching and learning using Blackboard System as a tool in e-Learning at University of Huddersfield.
1.6 Structure of Report
The report is structured providing different chapter headings which have been clearly separated. The report has the following Chapters:
- Chapter 1 gives the introduction of the problem, client description, aims and objectives of the problems. It is very important to find out the research problems in advance with clarity.
- Chapter 2 discusses the literature available in the chosen research field with similar works and research carried out in the past.
- Chapter 3 provides the overview of the methodology proposed and used for the research undertaken.
- Chapter 4 provides the findings of the data collected based on the methodology proposed on Chap 3.
- Chapter 5 presents the evaluation of the findings gathered and discussed in Chap 4. The evaluation will be based on the consistency, coherency, criticality, and contemporarily characteristics.
- Chapter 6 discusses the issues encountered in the professional and ethical practice while carrying the research.
- Chapter 7 consists of the recommendations, future work in evaluating e-learning technologies which can be considered by future researchers to work with. It also provides the concluding summary.
1.7 Scope of the Research Project
There are several aspects that are interrelated to the topic chosen.
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