The Digital Turn: staff perceptions of the virtual learning environment and the implications for educational developers

Nuala Harding

Abstract


Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) have become a critical part of the Higher Education (HE) learning, teaching and assessment environment over the past two d ecades. The study in this paper complements the longitudinal study designed by the #VLEIreland Project team to examine the key drivers and barriers for uptake and usage of an institutional VLE amongst students. There is a dearth of literature on VLE usage by staff in an Irish context. The findings of the #VLEIreland staff survey, presented in this paper, help us understand staff usage of technology tools including the VLE, and places this in a wider context. In 2014, the project team developed an electronic survey instrument to examine staff perceptions of the VLE and online learning tools. This collaborative study involved seven Irish HE institutes. There were 580 respondents to the electronic survey. Findings show lack of time as a considerable barrier to staff usage of the VLE and that staff usage is primarily for distribution of resources, communication and assignment submission. However, insights can also be gleaned from the data to assist educational developers when designing appropriate interventions for the development needs of staff. When considered in conjunction with findings from student data, the common misconceptions about VLE usage can be addressed including a negative impact on attendance and over-reliance on lecturers. In addition, consideration for the professionalisation of teaching in terms of digital literacy and technological skills is considered of vital importance to empower staff in the era of the digital turn.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22554/ijtel.v3i2.45

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