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A three year case study of using audio to blend the engineer’s learning environment

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Author(s): Anne Nortcliffe | Andrew Middleton

Journal: Engineering Education
ISSN 1750-0044

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 45;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: blended learning | digital audio | learning environments

ABSTRACT
A blended approach to learning, teaching and assessment has been part of curriculum design in the teaching of software engineering at Sheffield Hallam University since 2003 when the Blackboard virtual learning environment (VLE) was first used alongside lectures and laboratory-based assignments. In seeking a greater degree of integration between physical and virtual learning spaces we have been keen to explore how digital audio can be used to engage and develop students. Digital audio has shown itself to be a simple medium to work with and distribute. Its essential value has proven to be in how it supports access to the disparate voices available in education. We have developed several ideas, including audio notes to support lectures, educational podcasting and audio feedback to bridge the virtual and physical environments in order to offer a richer, more meaningful and formative learning experience. Our recent work has shown that digital audio is generally accessible to, and valued by, students and that it can lead to greater ongoing engagement in the module. This paper focuses on the formative feed forward potential of this flexible medium and illustrates how we have built upon initial successes by improving the design and integration of audio feedback. It describes how the techniques have been used to promote an holistic blended learning environment and how this has affected both the student and the tutor.

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