Provision of online materials to support student learning: have we found the right mix?
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The teaching of science subjects to very large numbers of first year students (up to 1800) is a characteristic of the larger Australian universities. During the last decade, to improve the learning environment in first year biology at the University of Sydney, we have moved from teacher-centred instruction to student-centred learning. To support our students we have developed and implemented a number of strategies to help them to enhance their learning outcomes. Since establishing a Virtual Resources Room, which was reported at CBLIS’99 (Peat, 1999), we have since developed a Virtual Learning Environment that incorporates learning and self-assessment resources and extensive communication opportunities (Peat, 2000a; Franklin and Peat, 2001). Over the last decade the evolution of the resources and the delivery mechanism have been subjected to rigorous iterative development cycles and more recently the resources have been investigated to determine whether they are still supporting student learning. This paper will report on several recent research projects and suggest broad guidelines as to how online materials can be used to support learning.