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Student Expectations of Technology Enhanced Learning

Student Expectations of Technology Enhanced Learning






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  • In order to improve consistency in the student experience and ensure that the support provided for students through e-learning is optimised, a need for minimum expectations of e-leaning across the institution was identifiedModels of minimum expectations from other HE institutions were reviewed. The most common and common sense expectations formed a working list for SHU These were reviewed by e-learning leads and support staff from across SHU and shaped into a set of expectations that could work from our staff perspective A survey was undertaken to explore student expectations of Technology Enhanced Learning and the findings were used to inform and validate the minimum expectations documentThe minimum expectations are currently under consultation but steps have been taken to help staff to achieve these minimum expectations, these will be discussed later.
  • Purpose of the survey was to inform and validate the new minimum expectations for Technology Enhanced LearningSurvey designed to elicit what online activities (including communication, resource use, assessment and feedback) students expected to be important to their learning experienceSurvey conducted during induction to capture new and returning students' expectations of the VLE
  • 560 students responded to the online survey which was live between 1st October 2012 and 22nd October 2012.Respondents were predominantly undergraduates (80.7%)New to HE (27.1%), New to SHU (19.6%), Returning to SHU (53.2)Various methods used to encourage participation - advertisement on shuspace initially on 'University Life' tab in 'Surveys and Focus Groups' Channel but this resulted in 14 participants after one week. Moved advert to 'My SHU' tab (front page) in the 'Have You Seen' Channel and also on the log in page, used student facing blog 'shutech' (written by students for students and links directly to Facebook) had adverts on Communication Screens and screensavers around campus, and created a flyer with a QR code which was given out in busy areas - actually targeted people with smart phones and observed from a distance to see if people would do the survey and they did!Incentive of 5 £100 gift vouchers
  • Over 97% of respondents felt that it was 'important' or 'very important' that each module they study is supported by a Blackboard module site and this was a key recommendation of the reportWe also explored the importance of various 'hygiene factors'The question we asked was 'How important is it that the Blackboard sites you use...'...are easy to navigate (98.5% 'important' or 'very important')...have appropriately named sections (98.1% 'important' or 'very important')...have a consistent layout and structure to the rest of their Blackboard module sites (93.2% 'important' or 'very important')...articulate how you are expected to engage (e.g. anticipated online activities, how often you should check the site etc) (86.4% 'important' or 'very important')...do not have empty of unused sections (64.3% 'important' or 'very important')
  • Over 97% of respondents felt that it was 'important' or 'very important' to be able to find staff contact details within Blackboard module sites.Interestingly, this was an area where there were differences between new students and returning students with new students placing greater importance on the availability of staff contact details. However, this is clearly a priority and this is reflected in our 'minimum expectations for TEL'Respondents also placed high importance on the provision of announcements and communications about their courses through Blackboard (98.2%) and the ability to communicate with their tutors via e-mail (97.1%)Communication with tutors (60.6) and other students (62.2%) through online discussion boards was seen as less important.
  • Qualitative comments also showed that Blackboard is seen as a key communication toolComments indicate that students expect to use the communicative functions for a number of purposes; academic, social and to keep in contact whilst on placementMany students placed particular value on the virtual learning environment and expressed their expectation that it should support every aspect of their learning experience - "I have expectations that the majority of my learning at Hallam will be supported by the online environment."It was also clear that students expect the online environment to support not only their academic life, but also their social life including events, societies, clubs and beyond - "I expect that there will be links to the societies I have joined up to so that I can find out about any meeting that we have or any events they are holding."There was also a clear expectation that the online environment would support students on placement, and provide a real-world link to help with career choices and employment opportunities whilst studying at Sheffield Hallam University and after they had graduated - "Finding a work experience placement should be supported in an online environment. This already happens and I think it should continue and improve."
  • 99% of respondents felt that it was 'important' or 'very important' to have assessment briefs available on Blackboard module sites.Respondents also placed high importance on the provision of online grades (91.8) and feedback (93.2%) through Blackboard and online submission of assessments (86.7%)Online peer feedback was seen as less important (67.6%).
  • Demand for online submission and the provision of grades and feedback was also reflected in qualitative comments, and whilst this feature is currently available it is not used across all modules - "It would be great to submit coursework online.", "All grades should be put online straight away, some of my modules do not do this which I believe is wrong."There was also demand for some kind of assessment schedule which pulled together all assessment tasks - "It would be better to have the tasks/assessments combined and displayed on the main page so that they are all combined, rather than having each one on their separate module sites."
  • Participants were asked whether they expected certain resources to be made available through BlackboardOver 97% of respondents felt that it was 'important' or 'very important' that lecture materials such as lecture slides and notes were made available to them through Blackboard.High importance was also placed on the provision of module resources lists (such as reading lists) (97.2%) and Module Handbooks through Blackboard
  • Qualitative comments placed a strong emphasis on the provision of lecture notes through Blackboard - "I think it should be mandatory that all modules use Blackboard and that all lecturers post their lecture slides.", "Just ensure that all lecture notes are available for reference on Blackboard."Students also paced value on the provision of additional online resources and felt that this could significantly enhance their learning experience - "Relevant articles which students/lecturers have found for each module, posted for further reading for the benefit of all students."
  • The use of mobile devices to access Blackboard learning materials and essential university information was seen as 'important' or 'very important' by over 83% of respondentsThe use of mobile devices also featured particularly heavily in the qualitative commentsThis was surprising and indicative of a strong demand in this area as the free text question did not specifically refer to mobile accessA large number of responses referred particularly to the availability of timetable information through the mobile application 'SHUgo', something which is currently under development - "I really wish that we could check our time table directly from SHUgo as it tends to change a lot. It would be much more convenient for us."
  • Findings from the student survey were used to inform and validate the expectations from the student perspective of staff e-learning These minimum expectations are currently under final institutional consultation 
  • At Sheffield Hallam University, every taught module should have a Blackboard module site for providing core information to students.
  • Sites are easy to navigate and provide access to core informationHaving access to core module content helps students succeed. Consistent approaches to the structure and presentation of module sites across course help students and staff to engage with sites quickly and effectively.Plan the module site structure for clear and quick access to key information, including meaningful names for areas and itemsInclude the module handbook, ensuring that essential information is easy to locateProvide access to learning materials such as lecture notes and hand outsLink to the online resource list for the moduleKeep resources and links up-to-date
  • Communication is consistent and expectations are set and metEstablish a communication strategy for the module, including alerts and announcements, and articulate how students are expected to engage with the site. Specifically:Establish a shared approach to communication for the module e.g. how students will be told of room changes; new content; deadline reminders; events etc.Use a welcome announcement to introduce the module and signpost essential contentLet students know how they will get module information; how regularly they should access the site and the kinds of activities expected of them on itInclude staff contact details for all module staffProvide the support and guidance students need to participate in e-learning activities relevant to this module
  • Assessments and feedback are clearly presentedStudents expect assessment briefs and grading criteria to be readily available for all assessments, and to access feedback and grades whenever and wherever they choose. To achieve this:Determine which aspects of the module assessment can be delivered onlineProvide assessment briefs and grading criteria for all assessmentsArticulate how and when students can expect to receive feedback in their work, and the format in which feedback will be deliveredUse Grade Centre to make provisional marks available to students
  • For the minimum expectations to be introduced and adopted effectively across the institution, good communication and support are essential.CommunicationUtilising whole staff communication channels such as eview (online staff magazine), shuspace and e-mailDissemination via appropriate faculty mechanisms such as LTA structures and newslettersRunning workshops/sessions explaining the expectations and how to meet themIncluding the expectations as part of e-learning inductions delivered in FacultiesReferencing the expectations in other e-learning support resourcesSupportEvaluate existing resources related to the expectations (central and faculty created)Create guidance as necessary, considering different levels of experienceRefresh e-learning starter packsRun sessions which help support staff in meeting the expectationsProvide examples which show how the expectations are being metDesign support and resources that remain relevant in different contextsWe are also proposing to redesign Blackboard processes internally and create automatic site set up in order to help staff to achieve these minimum expectations for technology enhanced learning
  • Site creation - A Blackboard module site will be created for each occurrence of a validated moduleNaming sites - Generally, the name of the site will be pulled from SI. However, there should be the option to 'tweak' the names where there are specific issues (multiple occurrences etc)User enrolment on sites - All staff teaching on the module should be enrolled on the site automatically and all students would be automatically enrolled based on if they are attached to a module in the student information system (SI) - there are a number a caveats here thoughSite default set up - We are unsure whether this is technically possible at present but the aim is to have some default content and settings in module sites upon set up (Module definitive document, staff contact details, resource list, timetable information, assessment informationManaging transition - currently considering two options - create a new blank site each year or create a new site and prepopulate it with content for staff to 'edit'