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Accounting students' perceptions of a virtual learning environment: Springboard or safety net?

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This research study elicits students' perceptions of the extent to which a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) supports, or indeed enhances, their learning experiences. A phenomenographic research study was conducted among first year, undergraduate accounting students at a UK business school that adopts the commercially provided VLE, Blackboard. Although the aim of using the VLE as a supplementary tool is to add value to the broader teaching–learning environment, the findings revealed that students perceived tutors to be using the VLE simply as an ‘online textbook', resulting, at best, in the use of the VLE as a ‘safety net'. The findings also suggested that taught sessions were perceived as adding little or no value to the VLE provision. By providing a clearer understanding of students' perceptions, this study enables tutors to review both their classroom and online provisions within Entwistle's (2003) conceptual framework to facilitate changes that would enrich the teaching–learning environment.
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Keywords: Phenomenography; accounting student perceptions; teaching–learning environment; virtual learning environment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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