e-learning at
  the centre for women's studies
  university of york

  contact: Ann Kaloski       email: eakn1@york.ac.uk       tel: x3671/4

information for staff

Centre for Women's Studies
Wired Women's Studies index

These pages offer information about the progress of e-learning within CWS. They will be updated as new ideas are mooted and new initiatives developed. As well as keeping us in the picture as to what's happening in women's studies e-learning, I hope they will also provide inspiration and support for new online teaching strategies.

Please send me details of any e-learning you offer, or are planning to offer, to Centre students, as well your comments - positive and negative - about the whole area of online pedagogy.

If there is enough demand I could organise a short women's studies workshop to address some of the issues involved; let me know if you're interested.


What's on offer in CWS
University Policy
Starting with VLEs
Some issues around assessment of electronic assignments

What's on offer in CWS

Wired Women's Studies is an initiative which aims to develop web skills, critique and theory in Women's Studies in the Humanities, with a current focus on contemporary literary and cultural studies. The project is concerned both with theoretical investigation into 'new media' and, of interest here, with extending the use of e-learning and assessing the value of various strategies.

    E-learning aspects of Wired Women's Studies:
  1. An option module Feminist Perspectives on Web Fiction.
  2. Sessions on theory and methodology for the Master's programme (eg cyberfeminism; web page design) as well as digitally-based class assignments which are integrated into more 'traditional' teaching sessions (eg the body; popular culture).
  3. MPhil/ PhD supervision which incorporates aspects of e-learning (online discussion and journaling).
  4. Online worksheets for topics in the Females, Femininity and Feminism modules (eg sexualities).
  5. Supervision and assessment of electronically-submitted master's assignments and dissertations.
  6. A small web room with both electronic and print resources (networked computers, printing and scanning facilities, books and magazines). Incidentally, this room is deliberately designed to offer a relaxed and creative environment, with pictures, flowery chairs and plants, and is not set out as a standard 'computer room'.

Let me know of any other e-learning schemes for Women's Studies students and I will add them to this page.

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University Policy

The University is currently bidding for resources to develop a university-wide Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This would be a centrally supported and integrated system with the aim of enhancing existing teaching and learning provision within a variety of departments.

The Online Learning Strategy Implementation Group (OLSIG) have asked for departmental feedback (by 15th January 2004). Although some applications within a VLE will be fairly standard, some will be department-specific, and OLSIG are keen to identify specific departmental needs. In addition, it is likely that we will soon be required to develop a departmental e-learning policy.

Details of the University's online learning strategy:

Details of the internal Virtual Learning Conference:

The univeristy's Learning Technologist is Richard Walker, email: rw23; tel: x3850.

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Starting with a VLE

    These are three key areas where I think a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) could enhance post-graduate education in CWS:
    • Course content: print and online bibliographies, including links to useful sites; course worksheets.
    • Class management: 'news' and bibliographic updates; calendar.
  2. COMMUNICATION: class discussion groups; real-time chat; archives of student-tutor and student-student discussion.
  3. CREATIVE USES: student web pages and other publications; online journals (weblogs).

Email your ideas


    OLSIG Guidelines for developing a Departmental Learning Strategy
  1. Pedagogical aims and objectives for e-learning within your subject area.
  2. The range of online support that will be offered to students.
  3. The relevance of online support to the students attracted to the discipline.
  4. The contribution of e-learning to individual study needs.
  5. Accessibility issues associated with the discipline.
  6. Skills (including computing and information technology) which students will require to work online.
  7. Relevant activities which may be supported online.
  8. The assessment process.

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Some issues around assessment of electronic assignments

  1. Electronic assignments, mean, in practice, work submitted on a CDROM (although the work may also be available on the web). Using a CDROM ensures that work cannot be tampered with after submission and can be stored as 'hard-copy'. In all other ways (length, criteria for submission and assessment) the assignment will be similar to a paper submission.
  2. So far assigments have been in the field of contemporary literary and cultural studies, and have not been readily transferable into paper submissions.
    • Media-specific techniques include:
    • hypertext
    • ideas offered in small chunks or 'lexias'
    • movement on the page/ screen (applets & javascript)
    • 3D textual landscape
    • interactivity between author and reader
    • self-conscious and unfamiliar design (of pages, paragraphs, sections & citations)
    • complex relationship between words and images
  3. Assignments produced in electronic form should be connected to, and aim to enhance, the topic of the dissertation or essay. This does not mean that such work should be only about new media technology, but there should be an intellectual rationale for not offering assignments in paper form. Creative electronic projects may be useful for, in particular, a) critical explorations of electronic fiction and b) theoretical investigations that include cultural aspects of the web, but they should not be seen as restricted to these areas.
  4. Issues for examination include:
    • reading onscreen work
    • assessing relatively unfamiliar 'new' media (how different from examining interdisciplinary essays written in a traditional form? How different from examining 'creative' pieces of work?)
    • evaluating students technical skills (how much help from others, if any, is acceptable? how much weight, if any, should be given to technical expertise?)
    • need for examiners to have appropriate hardware (PC/ MAC systems, up- to-date, etc..) and software (for reading 'advanced' pieces that may use sound and images alongside relatively straightforward written pages).

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