Europe learn from Staffordshire University's e-learning practices

EUROPE will be learning from Staffordshire University after a €20,000 grant to promote innovative electronic and online teaching practices.

Lecturers from the University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Technology (FCET) will be travelling to Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy and Portugal to demonstrate new and unique learning platforms.

These include e-learning through software such as Blackboard, which makes course material and lecture notes available online, and m-learning via mobile technology such as smart phones and tablets.

The University is also currently exploring new digital classroom applications, which allow students to speak with their lecturers or attend classes with fellow students in an online environment.

The funding to promote these practices to other EU countries came from the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci Programme.

Today (Tuesday, October 28) Dr Bobbie Fletcher and Nia Wearn set off on the first leg of the 18-month initiative, which has been named The Abel Project, travelling to Vasto, Italy.

Dr Fletcher said: “The whole project is a great opportunity for the University to make contact with other European institutions and learn more about how Europe works, or doesn’t work, with e-learning and distance learning.

“It globalises our teaching and learning practices and shows that Staffordshire University is leading the way in this non-traditional area of education.”

One project the University has undertaken to advance its distance learning practices is the launch of a new degree – a BSc(Hons) in Computer Games Design – using unique online classroom software.

The degree will be available next year as a three-year undergraduate distance learning course. It will also be available as a Top Up award for qualifications such as the Train2Game diploma run by independent awarding body TIGA, which has over 3,000 students.

Dr Fletcher said: “We’re working with a company from America, called Sococo, who develop virtual offices for businesses around the world.

“It is a unique project to adapt this software for a virtual online classroom where students can speak with their tutors or peers and attend lectures.

“We’ve been using the software for sometime, among colleagues, but this is the first time the company has looked into using it for teaching. No one else is doing this at the moment.”


Maria Scrivens
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