UCL News


E-learning portrait: Dr Paul Griseri

26 September 2006

Dr Paul Griseri, UCL Management Studies Centre, has established a new virtual learning environment for students of Management Studies.

Dr Paul Griseri

The first year course 'Foundations of Management', attracts over 150 students from a range of faculties each year. While the UCL Management Studies Centre is part of the Engineering Faculty, students come from a variety of disciplines, including mathematics, languages and architecture. Dr Griseri said: "The course is a ten-week introduction to some of the principles of management, and we get students from all sorts of backgrounds. We see it as a kind of 'sheep-dip' course - we immerse them in a lot of information. Then we develop this knowledge and understanding with subsequent courses."

The course team wanted to enrich the learning process for students on the course, and turned to WebCT. WebCT is a virtual learning environment (VLE) that provides a basis for group work and group assessment, whilst being somewhere for students to refer back to if they miss a lecture or need course information. The technology has been useful for enabling students to develop a deeper understanding of the theories taught in the course - especially if English is not their first language and getting a full grasp of a concept requires time to work out the language properly first.

This latest project, however, uses Moodle, a new technology for online teaching and learning, which facilitates online communities. Effectively, it offers the reference resource that was available with WebCT, but also provides a tracking functionality to monitor who accesses the technology, and a wiki functionality so that students can support one another to complement the teaching of the course and help the revision process.

The online tracking functionality provides an important extra element to the teaching, explained Dr Griseri: "Group work is an essential part of management, and it is vital that students on the course are able to contribute in a team environment. In the past we have only been able to monitor this by asking students whether they have worked in teams, which is quite ineffective as they can basically tell us anything. With Moodle, we can see when the forums have been accessed, and by whom. And with the wiki function, we can see which team members are amending documents, and in what order. It's a much more effective way of ensuring these vital teamworking skills are being practised."

Group work is now one of the assessment criteria for the course, but Dr Griseri hopes to achieve more through this element of the VLE than more effective assessment - he hopes to raise standards: "There is a link between student success and use of our VLE. Students who make the most of these facilities tend to do well - probably because they are taking all the opportunities presented to them - and those who do less well are often the ones who don't take advantage of the technology. I hope that the VLE accompanying this course will break down some of the barriers for any students who need to access extra information or ask questions but might not normally do so. It can be intimidating to ask for help in the classroom, so this should help students get the most out of the course and really enrich the learning experience."

The current Moodle VLE builds on work done within the UCL Management Studies Centre by Nina Seppala, who used the technology to enhance the teaching of her course on Corporate Social Responsibility for second and third year students. It also follows on from earlier work with online discussion spaces.

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.

Image: Dr Paul Griseri

About e-learning portraits
'E-learning portraits' is a series of profiles highlighting some of the ways in which UCL staff are using technology to complement traditional course teaching and facilitate the learning process.

UCL has a range of services available to help lecturers and tutors maximise the impact of their teaching, from technology support to pedagogical research:

  • The UCL Learning Technologies Support Service (LTSS) provides practical help and support to staff seeking to use technology to complement their course teaching. Find out more about LTSS
  • The UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning & Teaching (CALT) provides training in teaching and communication for students and staff at all levels. Find out more about CALT
  • The Teaching & Learning Support Section of UCL Library services (TLSS) provides printed and online resource materials to accompany taught courses at UCL. Find out more about TLSS