Can the Use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) promote students’ preparedness to practice?
Willis, S; Heales, CJ; Knapp, K
Date: 7 April 2009
University of Exeter
Title: Can the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) promote students’ preparedness to practice? Background: Widening participation and accessible learning may presently be seen to heavily influence the design and delivery of today’s health and social care programmes (Tight, 1998), at both pre- and post- registration levels. ...
Title: Can the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) promote students’ preparedness to practice? Background: Widening participation and accessible learning may presently be seen to heavily influence the design and delivery of today’s health and social care programmes (Tight, 1998), at both pre- and post- registration levels. In line with such government drivers (DfES, 2003) institutions are required to demonstrate a clear commitment to ensuring inclusive learning which seeks to promote student diversity and fair access to opportunities for learning and training whilst concurrently maintaining fitness for purpose and practice (CoR, 2004). Context: Whilst VLEs have gained currency across the educational landscape, few studies have sought to capture radiography students’ self-reported perceptions of the role of such tools to promote their learning and subsequent preparedness for professional practice. This is the first study undertaken within this institution to investigate the impact of a VLE on pre-registration students’ learning. Aim: To investigate the use of WebCT-based teaching sessions during a final year undergraduate Skeletal Image Interpretation module, to promote student learning and preparedness for clinical practice Method: Final year undergraduate radiography students (n=51) were invited to participate in the study. Data were gathered, in June 2008, using questionnaires which were distributed using a census sampling method. A response rate of 71% (n=36) was achieved. Results: Students identified that the main benefit of the VLE was the instant feedback (56%), access to the learning material for private study ‘off-campus’ (25%) and the constant availability of material for private study (17%) with only 2% of respondents perceiving that the use of the VLE had enhanced their module mark. However 89% of students agreed that the use of WebCT had improved their performance in clinical areas. The greatest challenge identified was technical, with 75% of students reporting computer problems, such as the failure of images to load properly. Conclusions: Students self-reported that the use of the VLE greatly enhanced their knowledge and skills and that this had benefited their level of clinical practice. The use of WebCT had enabled them to adopt a flexible approach to their learning, with high proportions of the respondents making use of the VLE in their own private study time, suggesting good engagement with this form of study.
Institute of Medical Education
College of Medicine and Health
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