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Researching the Use of VLE by Tutors in (X) University Essays

Researching the Use of VLE by Tutors in (X) University
Introduction
One would expect that tutors in Universities would have adopted the use of Virtue Learning Environments (VLE) by now. However, a good percentage of them are yet to adopt it. Various studies have suggested that there are different reasons why university tutors have failed to adopt the new technology. This research seeks to unearth the different reasons cited by different tutors and based on this; the researcher will suggest ways through which more tutors can adopt VLE.  By adopting VLE, tutors will be able to submit modules directly to the designated module areas, thereby eliminating the physical process of delivering the same to students. In addition, the tutor can give online quizzes and tests to the students, while online interaction between the tutor and students is facilitated by the discussion board. Tutors can set up VLE groups, which can work on different assignments separate from other groups in the class.  The tutor can also assist the students in setting up sign up sheets and glossaries, or video, audio or images collections on the media library. Overall, it is apparent that the tutor’s need to develop skills in technology use in order to develop enough skills to supports students in VLE.
Methodology
Mixed methods of research will be used in the research. Observation, questionnaire and interviews are the three main methods that the researcher intends to use in collecting data from the sample community in (X) university.
Sample:  The research will include all tutors not actively using VLE in (X) university.
Limitations: The researcher reckons that some opposition by tutors may arise especially because some may feel too old to adopt new technological methods of teaching, some may think that their courses are best taught using the traditional modes, while others may have firmly-held attitudes that hinder their adoption of information and communication technologies.
Methodical approach:  The research will seek to determine the effectiveness of VLE in the (X) university. The research will also review ICT skills, their usage and the tutor’s attitudes.   Finally, the research will seek to review the impact of age, subject and a tutor’s experience affects the development of ICT teaching skills among the tutors.
The problem of the Study
Despite the effectiveness of VLE over traditional methods of teaching, and the wide use of the same in most universities, a significant number of tutors still offer their course materials through the same traditional methods. While the traditional may still be effective, they are more time consuming and less convenient than VLE.  This research is also carried out on the recognition that sooner, the use of VLE will be inevitable in most Universities. Heather et al (2003), notes that institutional push is the least likely factor that would motivate tutors to adopt VLE usage. As such, the research hopes to encourage tutors to take up ICT usage voluntarily, not only for their benefit, but also for the convenience of students.
The Research Question
The research will answer the following questions:
Is a VLE-based program necessary in developing effective ICT teaching skills among tutors in (X) university?
What effect has the VLE-based program had on the tutor’s mind-set towards ICT and their level of satisfaction in ICT usage? In addition, the research will seek to establish the impact of the program on ICT knowledge, skills and the consequent usage
How do the tutor’s age, course taught and experience affect the willingness of tutors to embrace teaching skills in (X) university?
The Challenges
The biggest challenge facing VLE use in universities is the fact that, a significant percentage of tutors are over 50 years old. Tutors within this age bracket are secure about the traditional ways of teaching. The fact that most of them do not trust technology makes it even harder for them to embrace VLE.   Some tutor’s doubt the level of guidance that a teacher can offer to students on the VLE platforms (Stiles, 2007). On the other hand, VLE presents cultural changes to both students and their tutors. While the students may have an easier time learning how to interact with the program, the tutors will need more time to develop VLE materials (Armitage & Jenkins, 2002). The tutors may feel that pedagogic use of VLEs, creation of new courses, maintaining courses and adding new content is an added load to their strict schedules. Tutors also lack the enthusiasm of embracing VLE.
The value of the Study
According to Fry Et al (2003), tutors must either have a strong desire to improve their teaching skills or curious enough to want to adopt VLE. These are the best motivators for adoption of VLE by tutors. The worst motivator, is them being pushed by their institutions to adopt VLEs. With this recognition, this research seeks to come up with enough reasons to dispel and deal with the imaginary and real concerns that the tutors may have. According to economicsnetwork.ac.uk, disadvantages associated with VLE can be handled through effective management and planning. For example, to avoid workload, the tutors can plan the course support carefully. To avoid copyright infringements, the students must be informed about fair-use policies.  The study will address these concerns and make the necessary recommendations. In the end, the researcher hopes to have made a positive effect on the attitudes of tutors in university (X), making them more receptive towards VLE.
References
Armitage, S &Jenkins, M. (2002). Implementing and Supporting Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). Retrieved  June 22, 2009 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland02/proceedings/papers/099.pdf
Economicsnetwork.ac.uk. (2009). Why Use VLEs in Economics Teaching? The handbook of Economic Lecturers. Retrieved June 22, 2009 from http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/vle/13.htm
Fry, Heather et al. (2003). A Handbook for teaching and Learning in Higher Education. New York: Routledge
Stiles Mark. (2007). Death of the VLE?: a Challenge to a New Orthodoxy. The Journal for Serials Community.  Vol. 20, No. 1

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