Supporting Doctoral Students through the Personalisation of a Graduate Virtual Research Environment

Supporting Doctoral Students through the Personalisation of a Graduate Virtual Research Environment

Robert Costello (University of Hull, Hull, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2016100104
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This paper offers a case study in which a traditional Learning Management System (LMS) was enhanced through learning theories and web-based technologies to support the development of doctoral students. The model being used here, can address and support a personalised learning approach to assist postgraduate students, as part of matching their skills with a repository of rich media and activities. The mixed method research approach adopted here aided into the investigation into the Graduate Virtual Research Environment (GVRE) while analysing factors like usability, accessibility, goal orientation and evolving the learners' needs. The author argues by tailoring the gap between learning theories and technology with the complexities of human nature one can adapt the educational setting to provide a LMS which can be personalized for doctoral students.
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The focus of this paper is an initiative aimed at providing research students and early career researchers with personalised learning support as a means of supporting the development of their research skills (and so influencing completions) and enhancing their future employability. This initiative, which is called the Graduate Virtual Research Environment (GVRE), is based on a Learning Management System (LMS) and provides students with access to a range of learning resources which were developed by, and for, research students and more experienced researchers. Traditionally, LMSs are developed and designed around specific modules and courses; the GVRE is unusual as it is structured around the concept of a research journey as described below.

The aim of this study is to explore some of the challenges to developing personalised learning for research students using the example of the GVRE. The research questions which this paper addresses are:

  • 1.

    What constitutes a personalised learning system for research students?

  • 2.

    How effective is the GVRE in providing a personalised learning system?

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic

  • Personalised, Personal learning & Cloud.

  • Use of Learning Management Systems (LMS).

  • Supportive use of learning theories within on-line learning.

  • Research students and their academic and employability needs.

What this paper adds

  • Development of a LMS based on the research students’ learning journey.

  • Personalisation of a LMS based on the Research Development Framework (RDF).

  • Engagement of research students in the production of rich media resources for the Graduate Virtual Research Environment (GVRE).

  • Engaging within learning theories to support a new theoretical framework for eLearning.

Implications for practice

  • Development of online learning environments for research students is different to that for students taking individual modules, courses or programmes.

  • Research students may be successfully engaged in the development of learning resources.

  • It is possible to successfully use the RDF as a framework for developing a goal-oriented learning environment.

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