What's it all about?
The ecourse is the Birmingham School of Dentistry's e-learning site. The main difference from most e-learning sites is that our students love it ! It's a 24-hour unrestricted and interactive library for our students here in Birmingham UK - whatever the course or year, you have full access to all the learning materials from the day you join to the day you leave.
Many e-learning sites are restricted: they only let you access information if you are currently "doing the module". You can't revisit what you learned 3 years ago, and can't look ahead to lectures you haven't yet received. And the teachers know everything you do. Not here - the ecourse is a high trust zone. We are proud of our teaching and are happy to have it in the "shop window". We don't track what pages you have looked at, or what answers you give in self-assessments, and you can be anonymous if you wish when asking questions, giving feedback, creating wiki pages, or just making comments.
Designed by students
The ecourse was designed on the advice of our students: we asked what they liked about the internet, and tried to put all the good stuff into the ecourse. You will find pages and gadgets with ideas from Facebook, iTunes, Wikipedia, You-tube, BBC iPlayer, Flikr, Google, Apple, and many other Web 2.0 sites. We have found this means you will be comfortable as you navigate the ecourse, and not have to learn new skills to use it effectively.
The ecourse is an optional adjunct to our main learning and teaching: there is little here that is not available in lectures, text-books, hand-books, tutorials, seminars, one-to-one teaching, role-playing, group work, PBL, IBL, and so on. Even though it is optional, our students roast the ecourse servers with its constant use. We recognise that different people learn best in different ways: the ecourse is another way of learning, but not the only way.
Good for teachers too!
Staff can see what the other staff are doing, and this reduces conflicting teaching and advice. Disagreements are brought into the open, and resolved. Teachers from different specialties can find out and learn what other departments teach. It also improves the quality of the teaching - if everyone can see it, we want it to be good!
The School of Dentistry's ecourse won the Times Higher Award for the Outstanding ICT initiative of the year
. We were up against many heavyweights, including the Open University. Professor David Baker, one of the Times judges, said:
The e-course team won because of their imagination and innovation. It seemed clear to me that the people involved really had moved us forward in terms of the application of ICT to learning and teaching. The winners provide an exemplar for higher education, which we believe can be rolled out across a wide range of subjects. This is just what the judges wanted to see.'
Damien Walmsley, Deborah White, Giles Perryer
The "Ecourse Team" at the Times Higher Awards
…… are actively encouraging their universities to make their learning experience more interesting and more stimulating
……will demand access to this technology and will judge their university on its ability to deliver.
One of the greatest challenges for universities will be to accommodate this need for flexibility in structures that are intrinsically conservative
Professor Sir Brian Keith Follett FRS