Autonomous postgraduate learning abroad & VLEs

Guiding, monitoring and enhancing autonomous postgraduate learning abroad with virtual learning environments.

Principal applicant: Dr Stephen Bowd

Co-applicant: Dr Jill Burke


The aims of the University Strategic Plan ‘to be global in aspirations, impact and dimensions’ and to provide ‘outstanding student experience’ are being advanced by the postgraduate module ‘Medieval and Renaissance Italy: Texts, Objects and Practices’ (HIAR11058), which is taught by two members of staff in Italy.

Research suggests that studying abroad aids student employability and encourages a willingness to compete internationally within a student’s chosen field. Having run successfully for three years the course organisers wish to enhance the student learning experience further by implementing the trial of complementary digital platforms which will allow students to reflect more effectively on their work abroad and will permit the teaching staff to monitor and, in the future, formatively assess the student-led visits.

The team members have experience in providing virtual learning environments: the co-applicant has already made successful use of wikis for student learning and collaborative note making while the applicant has set up online discussion boards for history students. This project will benefit postgraduates directly since not only will taught postgraduates be encouraged to use new media to reflect on their work but research postgraduates will guide and monitor their efforts, reporting back to the teaching staff. In this way the sense of postgraduate ‘community’ will be further enhanced.

Finally, the project will provide a model for courses delivered or proposed elsewhere in the university which incorporate, or may have the potential to incorporate, some study abroad.