DIGITAL LEARNING: EVALUATING THE HILL-ENVIRONMENT

S. Sirkemaa1, H. Varpelaide2

1University of Turku (FINLAND)
2Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
The role of information technology is critical in digital learning environments. Ideally, most of the teaching material is in digital format for easy access. Also discussion and feedback between teachers and students relies on telecommunications. When information technology and networks have such a central role in the learning process, skills in using IT are becoming increasingly critical. If students are not familiar with technology, it may be overwhelming to manage the environment. On the other hand, also teachers have to master technology and understand the limitations of the infrastructure. Consequently, the role of students and teachers is changing in digital learning environments. The environment needs to be as easy to navigate as possible, and it should address the needs of differently skilled users and their learning styles. Developers of digital learning environment should focus how the user manages technology that is constantly changing and requires the user to learn new technical skills in order to work with technology.

In this paper we look at digital learning environments, and focus on HILL-environment. HILL is a digital learning environment that has been developed together with IBM and Cisco. It is a unique learning platform which allows distance learning, but is suitable for conferences, seminars, meetings and tutoring at the university. Here we describe the development effort and implementation of HILL. The added value is has been significant, and prompts wider use of digital learning technology.