Iredale, Alison (2006) Successful learning or failing premise? A situated evaluation of a virtual learning environment. In: The next generation. Research Proceedings of the 13th Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C 2006). Association for Learning Technology, Oxford, pp. 1-10. ISBN 0-9545870-5-7

There is a growing premise among educational policy makers and funding bodies that the inclusion of e-learning strategies into a traditionally delivered course in a mainstream educational setting provides a solution to some of the barriers to learning which can affect retention and achievement at an individual, institutional and national level. On the back of this premise considerable funding has gone into promoting the embedding of VLEs into accredited courses. ( 2005)

This research paper evaluates Virtual Learning Environments as a tool to enable improvements in retention and achievement and enhancement of learning skills. Findings from this situated evaluation raise key concerns and issues about the soundness of the nature of engagement and participation of learners using VLEs, particularly in terms of alignment of learning objectives with assessment, technical reliability and robustness, ease of navigation, and learner motivation, and the value of Situatedness within a VLE as a “learning how to learn” environment.

The findings from the research, whilst supporting the premise overall, highlight some important issues and opportunities for future research for teachers, designers of computer aided learning systems, and institutions, not least in questioning of the very future of the VLE in an educational setting.



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