Brief session outline:
– Intro and background to the study (2mins)
– Feedback from the room on online experiences staff/student perspectives and contexts they work in [this may include some technology component e.g. Nearpod, padlet etc.] (7mins)
– Findings from the study and how it can relate to other contexts/how participants can apply in own contexts (16mins)
– Q&A (5mins)
Although there are overlaps with the Participation through Learning Technology theme (i.e. the focus on creating engaging online learning ), this proposal is most in line with the Collaboration for Learning Technology theme. The session charts the scaling up of an online programme, where the experience of learners and teaching staff informed a new ‘best practice model’ in a university faculty. The role of collaboration was key in this; the learning technologist (myself) acted as a translator, interpreting student surveys and focus group data and posing those themes to academic colleagues. These two, sometimes opposing, viewpoints help to paint a more holistic picture of developing effective online learning.
Because much of the research in the field can often focus on only one perspective, it is hoped that by taking this collaborative approach and acknowledging conflicts – that session participants will gain valuable real world insight of developing online programmes within a particular institution.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session will reflect on a large-scale piece of research carried out in 2017 looking at the implementation of an online postgraduate degree in a northwest University. In response to a huge scaling up from 13 to 200 students, experience from both students and staff was sought in order to provide insight to improve further iterations, and ultimately a best practice model for the faculty.
Student voice data included two student surveys distributed termly, which returned 480 free text responses (on average 200-300 words each), and a focus group of six participants. The key themes were; the organisation of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); online support; interactivity of learning; personalised feedback; teaching materials – which were then discussed with teaching staff in a focus group to ascertain their views of these key student concerns. Where a mismatch was identified between staff intention and student experience, the opportunity for intervention from a learning technologist point of view will be presented as well as a broader institutional perspective. Equally commonalities were built upon to improve the programme. Many of the recommendations were immediately implemented ready for the next cohort of students. Preliminary feedback has been extremely positive and further research is currently underway.
The key findings and subsequent implementation from this research will be presented in the session, and how one might apply to other contexts to make it as relevant as possible for participants. Session participants should get a good grounding in what are the critical success factors for developing and scaling up an online degree. The perspective from a Higher Education Institution (HEI) point of view as well as from a Learning Technologist implementing change. More broadly, an appreciation how different perceptions and attitudes from staff and students can influence the online learning experience.
Please note: I intend to publish a paper based on this session in Research in Learning Technology. If this presents an issue, please let me know.
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