The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

2. Main content

The purpose of this section is briefly to present and discuss the main e-learning technologies that can enhance ‘in-class’ teaching and learning as well as some ‘out-of-class’ technologies that directly support or enhance the classroom experience and student participation. As mentioned before, the list of e-learning technologies discussed here is not exhaustive as our focus is mainly on teaching strategies that increase in-class participation and learning.[1]

Table 1 summarises the main advantages and disadvantages of the e-learning technologies covered in this section.

Table 1: Summary of e-learning technologies

E-Learning Technology In-Class (I) / Out-Class (O) Use? Easily used for Group Work? Main Advantages Main Disadvantages Freeware/ Open source available?
Lecture Capture O X

Allows for revision of previous lectures at students leisure 24h a day

Possible drop in student attendance

Audience Response Systems I

Allows for interaction with students in class

Software generates a whole array of automatic very rich activity reports (per class, per session, per student, etc.)

Allows for immediate feedback of students answers

Does not allow for the inclusion of 'open ended' questions


Mobile Phones I, O

Low cost for University

Allows for both closed and open questions to students

Students must be willing to pay for texts used in classroom context

Feedback may require editing before shown in class

Requires students to have mobile phones to be able to participate in activities

Most mobile providers have free software to manage messages in real time.

Online version also possible, e.g. Poll Everywhere

Portable Digital Video Cameras I, O

Allows students to review their own presentations and improve their presentation skills

Allows students to review other presentations to analyse skills of others

Allows for pre-recording of student assignment/lecturer feedback outside the classroom which might bring flexibility in the use of limited resources.


Requires large storing capacity in the server as files tend to be very large in size.

Smartphones might be used to some extent but without the same quality and ease of use.

Turnitin and GradeMark O X

Very powerfull tool to check for plagiarism and collusion in students assignments

Grademark can greatly save time in providing feedback to students and in ensuring that markers follow similar marking criteria

Simplifies the stages of collecting assignments, handing back feedback and publishing the marks.


As it is a Web-based service it is dependent on broadband speeds and can be rather slow at times.

Wikis O

Ideal for group work as a wikis were devised to be used collaboratively by multiple users.

Allows to track each individual student's contribution to group work and thus fairer grading of group work.

Technical issues can be a major problem and very time consuming.

As it is an alternative to face-to-face meetings it might not be able to capture all the benefits of group work.

Some institutions have their own systems (e.g. Confluence) but a large number of external websites are available

Learning Logs/Blogs O X

Encourages students to keep their own personal notes and to be reflective on the materials they are stutying.

It encourages individual, independent student work.

Allows student to record their work on a weekly basis, to interact with others and to share their thoughts on a specific topic.

Can be very time consuming for lecturers, especially in large classes as it requires the setting up of and the checking up on individual student's work on a weekly basis.

Most VLEs allow for Learning Logs to be created. Outside alternatives include blog sites like Blogger.

Screencasting I,O X

Easily transforms presentations into eLearning content

Engages learners with application simulations, "show me" movies and "try it" scenarios.

Allows to assess learner performance (more expensive versions only)

Cheaper versions are very limited and require to use applications through the web.

Best software solutions quite expensive

Best free resource is Jing

Web-based, textbook-linked resources O X

Access to large databanks of questions and materials which have been pre-tested and improved over a period of years

Facilitates the application and management of continuous assessment, homework tasks and study plans


System based outside university's servers which might create some dependency on a specific textbook


[1] We will not, therefore, discuss here typical out-of-class, stand-alone technologies that, despite the fact they might have a role in teaching, were not specially designed for teaching (e.g. Skype, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc).