For this discussion, our guests will be Debby Cotton, Emma Purnell and Sue Murray.
How can we use online diaries and journals, including text, audio and video, to record and evaluate student learning?Dr Debby Cotton (University of Plymouth) reports: I have used audio-diaries to investigate learner experiences of e-learning (project on-going) and also a video log of online activities using the think-aloud approach (references below). I’ve also used video, audio and written diaries to investigate the student experience of fieldwork.The difficult bit, as I see it, is analysing what students are learning (students often report enjoying using new technologies but it is more difficult to pin down their educational utility). My experience to date suggests that the use of a ‘prompted think-aloud approach’ – in which students use an online resource and are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and feelings as they do so provides more information about student learning than does the use of diaries which are undertaken entirely unprompted (and tend to be very unstructured). However, the advantage of diaries is that you are able to access a far wider range of learning environments and technologies (e.g. you can find out more about what students do when they are at home as well in the institution).I’d be interested to know how others have dealt with the problem of working out what students are learning from data provided through diaries – and will attempt to answer questions related to this.
Cotton, D.R.E. & Gresty, K.A. (2006) Reflecting on the think-aloud methodology for evaluating e-learning. British Journal of Educational Technology. 37 (1): 45-54
Cotton, D.R.E. & Gresty, K.A. (2007) The rhetoric and reality of e-learning: Using the think-aloud method to investigate student use of an online resource. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 32 (5): 583-600