This paper will address the question regarding the student experience of learning spaces, specifically spaces that are a blend involving some uses of interactive technologies and a physical presentation, but also spaces that are managed mostly online. These latter spaces may be managed via the institution’s VLE or via third party software, such as e-portfolios. This remit of this paper is to explore how students negotiate these spaces and whether these spaces are necessarily fulfilling their much-heralded promise. Following the results of a student survey and several focus group sessions, conclusions and suggestions are offered to how these spaces may be better managed.
This session will examine the results from a survey of the student experiences of TEL. These findings will be explored through relating them to the broad themes from three subsequent focus group sessions. In particular, competing tensions were discovered between the desire for lecture capture technologies and the overwhelming preference for traditional physical spaces for learning and the transmission of knowledge. However, it was also discovered that these traditional spaces were seen to be significantly enhanced through the use of interactive technologies that utilised the students’ own devices or via supplied devices from the institution. Further still, the much-vaunted collaborative potential of technologies was brought into question, in line with research by Henderson and Selwyn et al.
Other notable themes from the research for discussion include: ‘opportunities’, that is, the affordances provided by the technology; ‘collaboration’, in which pedagogical design was key to effective group work; ‘purpose’, the technology was more effective when it was seen as functional; ‘integration’ (a significant concern for students) – the need for technologies to be deployed effectively and in a timely manner; related to this, ‘employability’ is seen as a pressing concern for the students in regard to being work ready.
Relevant data from the survey and focus groups will be presented in the session and discussion invited surrounding the core themes. Pedagogical design will also be explored to see how this may maximise any potential educational benefits from appropriate blends of learning spaces.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The following session presents the findings and conclusions from a survey undertaken recently of undergraduates at the University of the West of England regarding their student experience of various educational technologies and hardware employed for teaching and learning – including institutional and third party web-based softwares. In addition, three focus groups were undertaken. This additional qualitative data provides a more in-depth analysis of some of the survey’s key findings, together with illuminating other salient issues pertaining to technology enhanced learning and teaching (TEL), and its provision and environments within the Faculty of Business and Law.
The rationale for this endeavour came from some earlier focus group studies involving undergraduates and postgraduates in the same Faculty between 2015-16 – these previous groups were formed predominantly from student course representatives. Although this work was explorative and more of a scoping exercise, it bears mention here because it helped inform the pilot to the survey questionnaire design used and the questions used in the associated follow-up focus groups. In this way, these initial focus groups explored the ‘student experience’ of technology enhanced learning and teaching in order to try and ascertain pertinent issues to the students. The definition of this type of experience is fundamental and was broadly defined as any group of technologies that could be utilised for the purposes of teaching and learning. Broadly, amongst other things, this includes: computer rooms and computers; laptop hire from library; voting ‘clickers’ fixed or mobile in lecture rooms; IT infrastructure (e.g. wifi); lecture capture; active classroom technologies and hardware; various software and hardware; the institution’s virtual learning environment Blackboard and the University intranet.
Henderson, M., Selwyn, N., and Rachel Aston. (2015).
What works and why? Student perceptions of ‘useful’ digital technology in university teaching and learning. Journal Studies in Higher Education.
Selwyn, N. (2011). Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates. London: Continuum.
Sharpe, R., Beetham H. (2011). Rethinking learning for a digital age
New York: Routledge.