The ECU Advantage Project: Research Outcomes Advising the Future
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Computer and Information Science
The use of communication and information technology as both an administrative tool and a support mechanism for instruction has been relatively widely used since the 1960's. More than 40 years later C&IT has become ubiquitous and considerably more sophisticated particularly with e-Iearning and m-learning options. In its precursor format Edith Cowan University began using computer based training in 1975 using a time sharing minicomputer and text based screens. Thirty years later ECU has a sophisticated communications network in place and a T&L strategy to provide the infrastructure necessary to gain the benefits from an e-learning model supporting conventional University learning paradigms. In 2003 ECU began a project known as "The ECU Advantage" and it centered on expanding e-learning to a particular m-learning model for trial in 2004. Preparation included lecturer training, updating the ECU network, ensuring curriculum materials were available in a satisfactory electronic format and of course selecting and providing a mobile environment (in this case IBM laptop computers). Other mobile options are still under consideration but the creation and development of appropriate learning materials has taken precedence over expanding technological options. The first part of the ECU Advantage trials were undertaken in 2004 with a second iteration commencing in 2005. The outcome of the 2004 research has focused changes for the 2005 implementation. The ECU Advantage Project planned for an independent evaluation which was undertaken by Queensland University of Technology (2004). Some of their findings and data from a sample of students are included in this paper along with ECU's interpretation of the project outcome to date. The paper also outlines the differences in the 2005 version of the project over the 2004 version after lessons learned and the findings of the evaluation team. In this section we look at further opportunities and difficulties in expanding the ECU Advantage Project further.