Elaine Thomas

Staff Tutor

My research interests lie in the uses of Information and Communications Technologies in Education, particularly the potential uses of ICT to help overcome barriers to learning. I am interested in researching how students can learn from each other in online environments and the importance of peer feedback in learning.

Currently, I am leading an eSTEeM-supported project called Visualising the code: are students engaging with programming at level 1? The project is investigating the impact of using a visual programming on student engagement with programming at level 1. The project is using as a case study the module TU100 My digital life where students learn programming through Sense, based on Scratch, and a digital electronics device, the SenseBoard.

I led another project supported by eSTEeM, Using OpenStudio in STEM learning. OpenStudio, developed by the Open University, enables students to create and upload audio-visual resources, and to engage in dialogue with their peers, their tutors and their module team around these resources. The project aims to explore the use of this 'studio' approach to learning in STEM disciplines across the Open University, with a view to providing information about the ways in which it is already being used in modules, and collating evidence of good practice.

I was project leader for a second eSTEeM project investigating the practices and implications of blending physical and digital resources for learning in HE: Hybrid/Digital Material Networked Learning. These 'hybrid' resources include remote laboratories and ubiquitous learning and the project aims to conduct a ‘state of the art’ review to establish the key themes, opportunities and obstacles that are emerging from these experiences.

I am Module Chair of  TM111 Introduction to Computing and Information Technology 1 which is now in its first presentation and I chaired the module team throughout the production phase.

I have been involved with the production of a number of modules in various roles, notably TU100 My Digital Life andT175 Networked Living: Exploring Information and Communication Technologies.

TU100 My Digital Life - I authored Part 1 of Block 3 on smart homes and wearable technologies and Part 2 of Block 4 on online communities.

T175 Networked Living: Exploring Information and Communication Technologies, I authored material for Block 1 on ICT systems.

I have also been very involved in the presentation module teams for these modules.

I began my Open University career tutoring on M206 Computing: An object-‚Äčoriented approach. I also tutored on MT262 Putting computers to work, THD204 Information Technology and Society and T171 You, your computer and the Net.

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