Rogerson-Revell, P., Nie, M. and Armellini, A. (2012) An evaluation of the use of voice boards, e-book readers and virtual worlds in a postgraduate distance learning applied linguistics and TESOL programme. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning.27(2), pp. 103-119. 0268-0513.
We researched the incorporation of three learning technologies (voice boards, i.e. voice-based discussion boards, e-book readers, and Second Life virtual world), into the Master’s Programme in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages offered by distance learning at the University of Leicester. This small-scale study was conducted as part of a JISC-funded research project called DUCKLING (Delivery University Curricula: Knowledge, Learning and INnovation Gains). The project focused on the impact of learning technology innovations on the design and delivery of distance-based postgraduate curricula. Digital audio technologies such as voice boards, used in conjunction with online activities (‘e-tivities’), constitute a low-cost innovation that offered high value to the distance learners who participated in this research. Benefits included a perceived reduction in learner isolation, increased personalisation and further opportunities for tutor and peer feedback. E-book readers, preloaded with course materials, afforded moderate benefits to learners, especially in relation to flexibility and access, at a relatively low cost. Virtual worlds such as Second Life required a steep learning curve for learners and tutors alike and incurred higher development costs, with a lesser impact on the learner experience