Part-time higher education students’ interactions with a virtual learning environment as an exploration of theories of connectivism




connectivism, virtual learning environment, non-traditional students, higher education


This article uses data from an action research project (ARP) conducted with part-time higher education (HE) students as a means of exploring the recent thinking about learning characterised by theories of connectivism. Both quantitative and qualitative data are presented to assess the extent to which connectivist theory might explain – and indeed develop – the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) on a part-time Education degree in the United Kingdom (UK), particularly for students from non-traditional backgrounds. The article concludes by discussing what both the data themselves and connectivist perspectives on those data might have to say about VLE use in an age in which such learning platforms are but one means of accessing learning.

Author Biographies

Steve Connolly, Anglia Ruskin University

Steve Connolly is Deputy Head of the  School of Education and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University, UK, where he teaches on a range of postgraduate courses. His research interests focus on questions of media literacies and other learning processes and how these relate to wider issues involving both curriculum and teacher education. He recently published his first single-authored monograph entitled The Changing Role of Media in The English Curriculum: Returning to Nowhere. (Routledge, 2021).

Karen Wicks, University of Bedfordshire

Karen Wicks is a senior lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Bedfordshire. She has a range of experience in mathematics education, including working in both primary and middle school settings, as a head of mathematics and as a consultant within local authority provision. Her research interests lie in developing confidence in adults learning mathematics and the role of technology in learning and teaching.


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