VLE Review: How are we currently using the VLE in Teaching and Learning?

As part of our emerging VLE review, I need to answer the following question;

How are staff currently using the VLE in their teaching and learning?

To answer this question, I propose the following methodology;

  • sample a number of courses and classify course use into broad types  (I’ll use the IoE pedagogical template model – see below)
  • highlight any particularly innovative approaches
  • run a number of staff focus groups to ask the question, how are you using Blackboard, and what do you want from a VLE in your teaching?

This will also feed into wider discussions, around is our current VLE fit for our purposes for the next few years?

For more info on the IoE templates >> https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=0AfpzMJUoL3hrZGRzejY0YzZfMjgxYzZkN3hoZ2s&hl=en

The driver for this work, includes,

  • i’m new  to the institution so I’d like an answer to this question
  • we need to quantify the answer so we can develop appropriate staff development programmes and communities of practice
  • the license costs of Blackboard

The IoE templates develop the work of Mason and others. They are divided into 7 types;

Blended (includes some component of Face to Face teaching)

  • online admin support
  • follow up
  • parallel
  • F2F events

Distance / Online (purely distance learning, no face to face component)

  • distance online support
  • online reource based
  • online discussion based

The user scenarios are as follows

Online Admin Support

This uses the VLE course as a repository for electronic information as the main emphasis of the teaching and learning takes place when they meet face to face. The online material is likely to include; administrative information (such as course announcements, contact information, and calendar dates), the course handbook, readings, teaching material (presentation), and submission of assignments (formative and summative).

In terms of the quality of the learning experience, it can be suggested that if the student did not access the course and only attended all face to face events then their learning experience would not be significantly effected. This is because the learning activities, and assessment and feedback are undertaken in the face to face environment.

Researchers Notes >> after going through 50 courses, a key question I asked was “could they have included the material (docs etc.,) in the handbook as a printed version?” If yes, I’d categorise as an Online Admin Support – hence tasks which just state a timetable or action (read before next session), are within this category

Follow Up

The follow up course differs from the Online Admin Support course as it involves the student undertaking learning activities within the VLE which are not available in face to face teaching. For instance, there might be a number of learning activities (summative and formative quizzes, discussion board activities) which students need to undertake between the face to face events. These will be explicitly used by the lecturer in the face to face teaching and be part of the feedback loop.

Another key difference is some of the online material is not available face to face, for instance, the inclusion of examples of previous students work, glossary of terms and more sophisticated use of links to online resources. In addition an indicator would include the use of blogs and wikis within learning activities.

In terms of the quality of the learning experience, it can be suggested student’s who do not access online material will be at a disadvantage (have a lower learning experience) compared to those who do.

NOTE >> an aspiration for the Elevate Team should be to encourage staff to shift towards the “Follow up” course and away from the “Online Admin Support” course

Parallel

The parallel course is a variation on the follow up course. It is where the course leader runs their learning activities in parallel, between the online and some face to face component. The scenario would be where a number of learning activities are completely online. It is not assumed the two learning spaces need to connect, in other words the tutor will not shift the outcomes from the online activities to the next face to face meeting. Therefore this is a key difference when compared to the Follow Up course.

In terms of the quality of the learning experience, it can be suggested student’s who do not access the online material will be at a disadvantage (have a lower learning experience) compared to those who do.

Researchers Notes >> try to unpick if the activity closure point is undertaken online or in face to face teaching. If closed online (ie quiz automated feedback) and no obvious reference this will be discussed in class, then classify as Parallel, otherwise, maybe Follow Up of F-2-F Events

Face to Face Events

This course type is another variation on the follow up course. Where the proportion of learning activities are undertaken in the online space, and the use of face to face events are more to bring closure and feedback to the online activities, or prepare the cohort for the next set of online activities.

This type of classification would inlcude the “block teaching” model

In terms of the quality of the learning experience, it can be suggested student’s must participate online if they are to learn.

NOTE >> an aspiration for the Elevate Team should be to shift the provision of our staff development programme to this type of course. Also we should challenge staff to thinking about designing their learning activities for this approach.

We can organise these blended courses as;

  1. Blended (includes face to face teaching)
    1. Online Admin Support
    2. Online Learning
      1. Follow up
      2. Parallel
      3. Face to Face Events

NOTE >> an aspiration for the Elevate Team should be to encourage and develop staff to shift their model of use along the blended learning spectrum from Admin Support to Face to Face events.

The distance courses are easier to classify, also fewer within a UCS context. The key difference is the integration of the online learning activities between the printed pack (CD or VLE course). Therefore, it follows a very similar pattern to the blended courses.

Distance online support

This course focuses on providing administration and support to the student as the learning activities and outlined in the course pack or CD.

In terms of the quality of the learning experience, it can be suggested that if the student did not access the course and only access the support part their learning experience would not be significantly effected. This is because the learning activities, and assessment and feedback are undertaken in the course pack.

The shift of the learning activities from the course pack to taking advantage of the course tools shifts the classification to online learning. The course classification can be subdivided into those who use predominantly discussion board based learning activities (online discussion based) or e-learning tutorials / content (online resource based)

We can organise these online courses as;

  1. Distance (no face to face teaching)
    1. Distance Online Support
    2. Distance Online Learning
      1. Online resource based
      2. Online discussion based

Evaluation Framework

So, how am I going to answer the question about staff use? I’ll sample a hundred courses or so, then make a subjective call (based on the info above) about classifying them into the type of use, by ticking the appropriate box in the data collection form. This sample will be across LNs and Schools.

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