Students as Partners in ‘e’ blended learning: can they help us?

Dr Paul Brett, University of Wolverhampton


Strategic E/Blended Learning

Widening Participation: 22,000 students, most 1st generation, wide ethnic mix

VLE is widely used, and recently successful in the use of e-portfolio students, with 21,000 students with active engagement.


3 x 180 degree changes that need to make:


We are never going to keep up with the developments in hardware/software, and the nature of the learning opportunities that those provide.


Not harnessing the possibilities fully – so work in partnership with students, rather than trying to OWN it.


Changed learning context? 97% children use internet and a majority of those were creating content…


When printing press was invented, had to stop orally relating stories, so no need to use those areas of our brain, so those parts of the brain shrunk. Neuroscience – functionality of the brain is changing.


Verbal activities & multitasking better, but jury out on critical, reflective faculties… Studies on cognitive processes.


Sir David Melville, CLEX – use students to help


Knowledge isn’t owned – available to all – possible to PERSONALISE!

If we started from scratch now we wouldn’t start from where we are.


Much of blended learning – implies a mode of transmission? Based on an old model?


Now – much is ‘shovelware’ – notes & resources – so how much of the power of the web is actually being used?


Potential barriers – lack of time, lack of staff knowledge, lack of money, institutional culture – for 8 years have been the same issues. Are we really making the radical differences that we could make? Despite staff/teacher development being funded like no other European country.


Students understand better than staff? Is putting a load of data into the VLE really an academic’s job? Work with the students to use the places that students understand with the ‘doing’ of the e-stuff, and what they NEED. Use them to e-support face-to-face options.


Flip Camera ? Photobucket, etc… Tried this on 3 modules. With student ‘E-Champions’ – had mini interviews with them. VLE, PebblePad – told them to do whatever they thought would help in the learning on the module for their peers. Overall – 2 were a success (the one in Performing Arts less successful)


Evaluation of the Project

Types of peer-peer support (note, “only” 80% of students on the Facebook group)


Student e-Champions




Rest of students




Questions – should we be using Moodle or Facebook? Wrong question? Are there great free tools that we should actually be using? Let the students lead the enterprise – maximise Web 2.0 opps, save staff loads, save institutional costs for hardware? Should the role be a credit-bearing one?




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