Staff training to boost e-learning

What should the University do to be at the forefront in e-learning? A new inquiry shows that better collaboration between digital platforms and training of lecturers on how digital teaching can be used to improve students’ learning are a step in the right direction.

The inquiry on e-learning has been carried out by the Centre for Educational Development (CED), which organised a vision seminar for teaching staff and students to share some of the best opportunities presented by digital learning. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg opened the seminar.

“We have lost ground in the area in recent years, but there is a lot we can do to improve. Within the next few years we should be at the forefront”, she says.

According to CED’s inquiry, use of e-learning is unevenly spread and it depends on how much opportunity, skill and interest the lecturers have in introducing more digitalisation into their teaching.

“Lund University has worked in a very decentralised manner in education. We have digital platforms, but awareness of them is too limited. Developments have now come so far that it is no longer possible just to work with enthusiasts. Everyone needs to have access to the tools and support to discover how teaching can be improved through e-learning”, says Åsa Lindberg-Sand.

She is head of CED and project manager for the inquiry that has been carried out. In her view, there are more stages required if the University is to be at the forefront in e-learning.

“The technology is already in place. The most important thing is coordinating and establishing interaction with the digital tools that are already available, such as LUVIT and Moodle. In addition, teaching staff must be given training to really make the most of the educational benefits”, says Åsa Lindberg-Sand.

Discussions on the role of the lecturer developed into one of the most lively discussions at the vision seminar. According to CED’s inquiry, around half of teaching staff are very keen to see better conditions for e-learning, yet there is also a large group of staff who don’t believe e-learning improves the quality of education.

“One reason why we organised the vision seminar was to show a few of the best bits of e-learning and how good it can get.”

One of these ‘best bits’ was ‘flipping the classroom’, a model that can be encouraged by the use of e-learning and digitalisation.

“Flipping the classroom means that the students prepare in advance for lectures and discussions. The problem has been that very few students are interested in reading the textbook before the lecture itself”, says Mikael Sundström, senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science who has written a textbook in e-book form.

In an e-book it is possible to integrate more content than just text. For example, audio and video files can be used.

“We have seen that the students are very interested in these integrated features. They skim the text and don’t pay all that much attention to it. Every time the student came to a link to a film or an audio file, they stopped and clicked on it.”

Now that the inquiry is complete, an action plan has been proposed for a policy, which the University is going to consider.

Fredrik Bröndum