Beyond the classroom: an investigation into eLearning to create a blended eLearning environment
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This research project looked at the possibilities of engaging students and teachers in out-of-class communicating to enhance the learning and teaching environment and to involve graphic design staff working as a team to introduce new technologies into learning and teaching approaches, with associated curriculum development. This was seen as engaging with an online ePortfolio area that was specifically tailored for the students so that they could communicate with each other and the tutor of the class. There was also the need for the students to up-load their project designs to ascertain critique from their peers and tutors whilst away from class. This would have several benefits as feedback could be given outside of the classroom, making the precious time in class much more fulfilling and productive whilst creating a collaborative design community. It will also enable teaching material to be available to students for independent learning in online and downloadable formats and will enable teaching staff to concentrate on developing concepts, while allowing students to develop as independent, engaged learners. Existing public platforms were considered (Facebook, Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter, Blogged, etc.) but sites such as these although good in content and functionality did cause several concerns from both tutors and students alike. It was established that an internal university ePortfolio area be used for the purposes of this project. This lead to the investigation of what was on offer within the university in terms of availability and support.