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Derby learning resources and activities (BA) case study

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago

CSCS Derby online BA Business.doc


Derby learning resources and activities (BA) case study

Christine Harrop-Griffiths
Author: Christine Harrop-Griffiths
Explanation and further information
1. Why did you use this e-learning approach?
approx. 100 words
·         The University of Derby has been committed to widening participation and encouraging flexibility in teaching and learning for some years. The traditional model of students attending University for face to face tuition does not always allow for the achievement of these aims.
·         By creating a degree which is available in its entirety on-line, a far greater number and range of students are able to access higher education.
·         International students not able or prepared to come to the UK to study would be able to access this degree course.
2. What was the context in which you used this e-learning approach?
approx. 250 words
  • The University of Derby selected the BA Business Studies degree as the undergraduate course to be offered as an entirely on-line model.
  • This degree continues to be run as a full time on campus course, over three or four years of study.
  • The final year of the degree is also available as a part-time course. This is particularly attractive to students who complete our part-time HND and wish to progress to a full degree via part-time study.
  •  The on-line version of the degree is therefore one of a number of modes of study, hence allowing maximum flexibility.
  • The numbers studying the on-line BA Business Studies started at around 10 in 2000 and have risen gradually, particularly in the last two to three years. Numbers in 2005/6 were 45 rising to 51 in 2006/7.
  • The students choosing to take the on-line degree tend to be mature, often with “unusual” profiles.
  • Students who are high achievers tend to be mature, with full time, often very responsible jobs. These students often need degrees to progress further in their careers.
  • Others may be in jobs which require them to move around a great deal and are therefore unable to attend a standard University course.
  • Some are foreign students wishing to obtain a British degree without having to live in the country to study.
  • A number of students have taken academic courses in various guises, some of which can be accredited towards the degree.
  • Very rarely would a typical 18 year old school leaver apply for the on-line degree.
  • Students taking the on-line degree tend to take a number of years to complete the full diet of modules, maybe only taking one or two modules a year.
3. What technologies and/or e-tools were available to you?
approx. 150 words
  • The platform initially used for the launch of the on-line degree was GUA.
  • The platform was provided by the third party but the University undertook the administration.
  • This then changed to a third party hosted platform, administered by the University.
  • Over the last academic year, this has been changed to Blackboard, hosted by the University.
4. What was the design?
approx. 150words
·         The initial design of the e-learning modules was set by the GUA platform.
·         All modules therefore contained specific sections such as:
·          course materials,
·          discussion forums,
·          digital drop boxes
·         assessment
·         This design has been retained notwithstanding the change to the new platform.
·         Blackboard however features greater functionality.
5. How did you implement and embed this e-learning approach?
approx. 250 words
·         It is recognised within the HE sector that Derby is one of the very few HEIs to have embedded e-learning.
              As a result, HEA/JISC funded an e-learning benchmarking exercise.
·         In support of the move to e-learning the following occurred:
·         All academic staff involved in delivering an on-line module received training in terms of writing and delivering e-learning module and in use of the platform.
·         This training was delivered by GUA as part of the contractual arrangement.
·         The change to the Blackboard platform has necessitated further training of staff.
·         A dedicated support team has been created to deal with the technical issues surrounding e-learning.

Explanation and further information

6. What tangible benefits did this e-learning approach produce?
approx. 400 words
·         Over the past years there has been a gradual increase in satisfaction levels reported by on-line students.
·         The student feedback shows that they are impressed with the Derby e-learning experience. A number compare their experience as students of the University of Derby favourably with previous experience gained with other Universities.
·         Students are generally very complimentary about the support given by the academic tutors.
·         Student progression on the e-learning programme is very commendable.
·         Very pleasing this year has been the achievement by an on-line student of a first class honours degree.
·         A few years ago a series of guidelines for tutors were written to help them with the delivery of on-line modules
·         This series of protocols has been very successful in improving staff/student interaction.
·         The operation of an on-line programme has raised the skill expertise of staff.
·         On-line material can be used to support on campus students.
·         The existence of an on-line degree has improved student retention. A number of students have been unable to continue with the on campus study for a variety of personal reasons. Instead of having to abandon their studies altogether, they have been able to complete their degree on-line, in a manner to suit their individual circumstances.
·         The experience gained in delivering e-learning modules has made the participation in the Pathfinder project feasible. One important strand of this project is to deliver degrees in two years.
·         The University of Derby launched an Accelerated degree in Business Studies last year. By studying three modules on-line during the first summer and one to two during the second summer, students are able to complete a degree in two academic years.
·         Whilst it is too early to assess the success of students involved in the accelerated degree, it is certainly true that it has attracted a cohort who would probably not have contemplated a traditional three year degree.
·         This example of the accelerated degree utilizing e-learning modules has an obvious benefit in fulfilling the University’s mission of widening participation and increasing flexibility.
7. Did implementation of this e-learning approach have any disadvantages or drawbacks?
approx. 250 words
·         A number of academics were initially quite reluctant to engage with e-learning, largely because of fear of the unknown.
·         Staff workloads have been an issue in some instances.
·         Staff have needed to develop more advanced e-tutoring skills.
·         There was an expense involved in initial and ongoing training of staff involved in delivering e-learning.
·         Timeliness of response to student queries can be an issue as tutors are only available for a limited period of time. There could of course be time zone issues with some overseas students.
·         Some academic staff tend not to be proactive in contacting e-learning students.
8. How did this e-learning approach accord with or differ from any relevant departmental and/or institutional strategies?
approx. 250 words
·         Initially the e-learning approach was driven by the University’s membership of the Global University alliance.
·         Derby has subsequently developed tremendous expertise in the field of e-learning.
·         Derby is a leading provider of e-learning programmes -there are currently 19 programmes running that are completely e-learning.
·         Derby is also a sector leader in the use of Computer Aided Assessment.
·         The University has embraced the e-learning approach for future delivery. There is a proposal for all future delivery of programmes to incorporate one e-learning module per stage.
·         Derby is also a sector leader in the use of work based training, winning the 2006 Times Higher Award for the most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning.
9. Summary and Reflection
approx. 200 words
  • For the future, it would be beneficial if some team building activities could be undertaken for e-learning staff and students.
  • Administrative difficulties such as the granting of extensions for extenuating circumstances or suspension of studies need to be refined.
  • The lack of induction for on-line students is also an issue which is currently under consideration.
  • The recent e-learning benchmark exercise has enabled us to identify how we take e-learning forward as an institution.
  • The flexible learning network through the Pathfinder Project will bring together existing expertise within the institution and embed our experience.








Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 12:19 am on Jul 11, 2007

Can you say more about the underlying pedagogy in section 4 please?
Do you have figures and quotes from student surveys?
Do you have any figures for retention of students who would otherwise have left?

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