AU Case Studies - Blackboard Virtual Classroom

Last modified by AndyGreenway on 24/02/2011

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AU Case Studies - Blackboard Virtual Classroom

Name of LecturerDr Louise Marshall
DepartmentEnglish Literature
Course / LevelPart 1
Approximate number of students involved10


Tools/Equipment used: Blackboard Virtual Classroom

Number of cohorts/years been used for: Used for 1 seminar when tutor could not be on campus. Students joined the session from public workstations across the campus. 1 student felt that he could not participate

Whether e-learning is used in assessment No

Any feedback from students?: Student feedback was very positive. They enjoyed the experience and appreciated the opportunity to hold the session despite my absence.


Advantages of using E-learning

In this instance there was no time saving advantage. It took the students some time to get to grips with the environment, but all participants were successful. In some respects the technology slowed down the usual functioning of the seminar. The students’ enthusiasm and their desire to voice their ideas took more time in the virtual environment than in the usual classroom setting. As a result the seminar ran for 1h30min rather than the usual 50min allocated.

Whether improves student experience

Most of the students worked in pairs, sharing ideas before posting in the virtual classroom. This worked as an excellent strategy and certainly improved the quality of the discussion. The most impressive consequence was the cohesion created amongst the group. Despite the absence of 1 member during the virtual session, subsequent seminars were more dynamic. Students' showed more confidence in sharing their ideas, were more proactive in formulating their own ideas and more supportive of each other.

Whether improves student results

I have no statistical evidence to suggest that on an individual basis the e-learning produced an improvement in student results. However, the improvement in terms of the students’ general engagement after the virtual session was tangible in subsequent seminars. This would certainly suggest that student learning derived from seminar discussion was improved and this would have some effect on the quality of written work..

What do you think worked well?

Without the virtual classroom this session would simply have been cancelled. As a tool in such circumstances the VLE is an excellent solution.


Setting up the classroom (particularly connecting from my home machine) required a level of technical support and had an impact on both my time and the time of e-learning staff.

Would you have done anything differently?

Making use of the technology at relative short notice was a disadvantage, but without this sort of exceptional circumstance I would not have made use of the virtual classroom. Ideally students would be given an opportunity to find their way around the classroom prior to the session.

Future plans

Given the benefits to group cohesion I would like to make further use of this tool, perhaps in relation to new modes of assessment which are being developed in the department. This tool would also be of excellent use in terms of distance learning which the department is beginning to get involved with in postgraduate modules.

Advice to staff planning to use the same tool/equipment:

Persevere with setting up the technology – it takes time but is worth it.

If possible provide students with an opportunity to experience the environment beforehand.

Plan the session with the VLE in mind, but be prepared for activities to take longer than normal – more time may be needed to cover the usual amount of material.

Created by Mary Jacob on 23/09/2009
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