Postgraduate Student Perspectives of Using an On-line Learning Environment

Peter CHAU

Many Universities have used on-line learning tools as a vehicle to provide a better more flexible and interesting environment for independent learning. The improvement in World Wide Web technologies, in particular the development of more powerful dynamic development languages has had a direct effect on the facilities and functions that the latest learning environments can support. One such learning environment has been created at the University of Sunderland and used as part of the MSc Electronic Commerce programmes. A brief description of the Sunderland On-line Learning Environment (SOLE) is presented highlighting its key features and the tools it incorporates to support learning. The results of a survey of postgraduate student users of the learning environment is presented, in an attempt to identify the key advantages and disadvantages of using such an environment from a students perspective. An analysis of the backgrounds of the postgraduate students using the environment was performed in order to determine if there were any trends in the survey results resulting from gender and technical background. The results of the questionnaire are presented identifying what the student's thought about the learning experience compared to the traditional learning and teaching provided on other modules. In addition aspects of the environment that were identified as being particularly good or bad are discussed. Conclusions are drawn highlighting areas for further research and development of the on-line learning environment.

KEYWORDS: On-line Learning Environment, Postgraduate Students Evaluation, Statistical Survey Results