Academic staff attitudes towards electronic learning in Arts and Sciences

Vivien Rolfe []1,
Marcos Alcocer [] 2,
Elaine Bentley []3,
David Milne []4,
Jan Meyer-Sahling []5,
1School of Allied Health Sciences, Hawthorn Building, The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK []
2School of Bioscience, 3School of Medicine, 4School of Politics, 5School of History, The University of Nottingham, UK


The use of electronic media and tools is central to many higher education teaching and learning strategies, but adoption of new technology is more often negatively received by staff, although enthusiastically embraced by students. Longer term, it has been questioned whether universities will meet the needs of shifting knowledge-based societies and increasingly diverse student populations.

 Barriers to the adoption of e-learning by staff have been identified largely from research within scientific and technical subjects. Our aim was to explore the attitudes of staff towards e-learning across both the Arts and Sciences, to understand more fully some of the reasons why educators fail to make the best use of technology-driven opportunities. Staff (n=36) from Schools of Politics, American Studies, Medicine, Nursing and Bioscience at one University were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire (see Appendix 1).

The results showed that staff did not have a consensual idea of what e-learning meant, or the breadth of technologies involved. Science staff were more aware of the potential benefits, feeling that their academic subjects suited the use of e-learning. In the Arts, staff felt that their academic subjects required deeper levels of analysis and discussion that e-learning could not provide. This perhaps reflects a lack of understanding of what e-learning tools were available and could potentially offer.

To conclude, the Arts lag behind the Sciences in the provision of e-learning, with staff suggesting that the use of e-learning was perhaps of less benefit to the subject. The lack of clarity and divergent attitudes provides an insight into how e-learning strategies must be adapted in order to improve staff understanding of what e-learning technologies are available, what the benefits are and how best to adopt them.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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