E-learning is complex issue

Stirling University's deputy principal Sally Brown said this week that the notion that new technologies allowed teaching to be improved more cheaply was "fundamentally misconceived", writes Olga Wojtas.

Giving a keynote address at this week's Society for Research into Higher Education conference, Professor Brown questioned whether students would be prepared to pay the same level of fees for distance learning as for traditional courses.

She said understanding of teaching and learning through new technology was still in its infancy, but initial findings suggested it was a more complicated area than some enthusiasts cared to admit. Students depended on face-to-face human contact, no matter how effective electronic conferencing or web-based courses were, she said.

"While pure distance learning may have its place, for the foreseeable future student attendance on campus will continue, but much less in the traditional term-based form."

SRHE, page 4.

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