Enhancing Student Learning Experience and Satisfaction Using Virtual Learning Environments

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The paper presents a project that aims to enhance students experiences and satisfaction through the use of a Virtual Learning Environment. Particularly, it aims at developing a blended learning community to support diverse student population, including students with special learning needs. This project focuses on the teaching/learning aspects of students experiences and satisfaction. Other aspects are geared towards use by student support staff and those whose main responsibility is technical or system administration support. Various methods were used to measure the success of the project and its implementation. Evaluation results show a significant increase in student satisfaction and enhanced progression rate.

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Enhancing Student Learning Experience and Satisfaction Using Virtual Learning Environments

  1. 1. Enhancing Student Learning Experience and Satisfaction Using Virtual Learning Environments Hanan Faour Mohammad Hammoudeh Ahmed Al Ghamdi Salford Business School School of Computing Math & DT Opportunity Training & Consultancy University of Salford Manchester Metropolitan University London, UK Salford, UK Manchester, UK Ahmad@opportunity-tc.co.uk H.Faour@edu.salford.ac.uk M.Hammoudeh@mmu.ac.ukAbstract— The paper presents a project that aims to enhance learning material, facilitate collaborative work, involve instudents experiences and satisfaction through the use of a Virtual discussion with peers, and take formative assessments.Learning Environment. Particularly, it aims at developing ablended learning community to support diverse student This project is concerned with enhancing students‟population, including students with special learning needs. This experiences and satisfaction through the use of VLEs.project focuses on the teaching/learning aspects of students Particularly, it aims at developing a blended learningexperiences and satisfaction. Other aspects are geared towards community to support diverse student population, includinguse by student support staff and those whose main responsibility students with special learning needs. Consequently, the mainis technical or system administration support. Various methods outcomes we hope to achieve at the end of this project are:were used to measure the success of the project and itsimplementation. Evaluation results show a significant increase in  Offer students a more flexible mode that may better suitstudent satisfaction and enhanced progression rate. the learning style and commitments Keywords-component; Student experience and satisfaction,  Enable key skills to be developed includingVirtual learning environment, Computer science teaching pedagogy communication, time management, problem solving, and critical and analytical thinking I. INTRODUCTION  Enhance the cognitive, social, and affective dimensions of This paper provides a description and evaluation of the students‟ experiences using VLEsimplementation of a project that aims to enhance students‟experiences and satisfaction through the use of a Virtual  To encourage the formation and development of accessibleLearning Environment (VLE). This project supports the and inclusive learning communitiesargument that learning should be student-centred [1]. It III. LITERATURE REVIEWinvolves working towards identifying the aspects that enhancethe quality of the learning experience. The quality of any Research on student engagement with learning suggests that when students perceive that they have choices in how tolearning experience is dependent upon complex interaction learn subject matter they are more engaged and motivated toamong the experiences, attitudes and characteristics of learners, move beyond simple information acquisition to trying to gainand the attributes of the „task environment‟ [2]. an understanding of the subject [3]. Chou and Liu [4] also In the following sections, the project‟s aim and rational is found that engagement with learning was higher when using ahighlighted and its context is set by presenting a concise VLE than when using traditional models of learning. A greaterliterature review. Then the implementation methodology is sense of „connectedness‟ among students, and between staffoutlined and the results are discussed. The last section and students, who use VLEs, leads to higher completion ratesconcludes the report. when compared with students who did not use VLEs [5]. II. PROJECT OUTLINE AND RATIONAL VLE helps to adapt and develop teaching/learning provision to permit more personalisation and greater flexibility Computer Science (CS) teaching in the new millennium to react to the varied needs of today‟s students while ensuringneeds to suit the students‟ needs and employers‟ expectations. they bring a quality service [6]. The learning and teachingMany CS teachers are characterised by their adverse focus on activities will be designed to provide scaffolding with thethe technology development of VLEs rather than on concepts teacher having the main responsibility for providing theand teaching pedagogy. To enhance the learners‟ experiences, guidance, but peers also playing a role. As VLE push learnerswe tried to engage learners in self-directed and active learning to become more skilled in learning so that they could becomeby encouraging them to take responsibility for their learning. more empowered when choosing how they want to learn, aVLE-based learning encourages learners‟ to locate their own suitable pedagogy such as “Learner-centred pedagogy” [7]
  2. 2. must be used. This pedagogy helps to deal with individual engaged with various VLE tools, e.g. forums andlearners variations. formative assessment. IV. PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION VI. CONCLUSIONDale & Lane [8] warn that teachers should not assume that We think that this project has generally been a success. Itbecause they develop interactive material that students will is crucial to be cautious about generalising from a small studynecessarily use it. They suggest a model for encouraging but there are some lessons and conclusions that can be drawnstudents to engage with the discussion forums. This model was from this experience.generalised, slightly adapted, and used to implement this The students found that the VLE has opened up a range ofproject. The modified model is comprised of four actions: possibilities in terms of enabling them to engage in a range of 1) View pedagogy as the „driver‟ and technology as the different learning processes appropriate to their personal needs„enabler‟ [6]. Most of our teaching is based on social and preferences. The project evolution showed that studentsconstructivist approaches that aim to change the role of felt more supported in their learning and helped us to identifylearners and tutors [9]. areas where students were not engaging actively in the VLE. 2) Formalising VLE facilitated learning: timetable Generally, as teachers we need to have a greater awareness ofstudents to engage in the VLE and place the VLE in the the individual learning experiences and strategies to facilitatemodule guide. VLE-based learning. Moreover, there should be a balance 3) Integrate online materials into traditional lecture-based between learning on-VLE and face-to-face learning dependingsessions to help legitimise the new method. on the experience of students and the discipline. Another area of success in this project was the obvious student satisfaction 4) Recognise students work and provide constructive with the way the unit was delivered.feedback. 5) Map learning to assessment. Many students are mark- REFERENCESdriven and take a strategic view of what work is needed andtheir work can be focused closely to course requirements [10]. [1] Richardson J. A., Turner A., "A Large-scale „local‟ evaluation This blended learning approach [11] fosters effective and of students‟ learning experiences using virtual learningaccessible learning communities and helps students to engage environments," Educational Technology & Society 3(4), 2000.better with learning communities. This engagement has beenaddressed by several authors as an integral to success of VLE- ISSN 1436-4522.based learning [9]. We decided to implement a range of online [2] Pask, G., "Styles and Strategies of Learning," British Journal oftools: discussion forums; email; animation/simulation; quizzes; Educational Psychology. 46, 1976, pp 128−148podcasts; grade books; and file repository. Initially this project [3] Entwistle, N. J. and Ramsden, P. "Understanding Studentwill be concerned with a final year undergraduate unit that is Learning," London: Croom Helm, 1983.thought by the second author. We choose this unit as it attracts [4] Chou, S. W. and Liu, C. H., "Learning Effectiveness in a Web-enough students from whom we can obtain adequate feedback Based Virtual Learning Environment: a learner controlto evaluate the success of this project. As part of this project perspective," Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 2000,we have developed WebCT area for this unit. pp 65–76. V. RESULTS [5] Enjelvin, G., "Investigating VAT (Value-Adding Technologies) and effectiveness in a French Department," Journal of Further We used wide-reaching evaluation methods to assess the and Higher Education, 29(2), 2005, pp 155-167.success of this project. Using a hybrid assessment criteria and [6] Comrie, A., "TESEP: Transforming and Enhancing the Studentresearch methods provides deeper-insight on how successful Experience Through Pedagogy," 2005.this project is. The project is based on the argument that [7] Mayer, R. E.; R. Moreno, “A Cognitive Theory of Multimedialearning should be student-centred, and thus any evaluation Learning: Implications for Design Principles,” 1998.should also be student-centred. The backbone of the evaluation [8] Dale, C. and Lane, A.M., "Carry on talking: developing ways tois a number of measuring methods: enhance students‟ use of online discussion forums," Journal of Student questionnaires to examine student learning Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, 3, 2004, pp experiences: Based on the data collected from the two 53-59. questionnaires, students were highly satisfied with the way [9] Salmon, G., "E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning the unit was delivered in general and reported positive Online," 2nd Edition. 2004, Kogan Page: London. experiences with the VLE. [10] Hall, R., "Observations on a Year of Using the Wolverhampton Statistical analysis (from WebCT): We have collected Online Learning Framework (WOLF)," Journal of Hospitality, statistical data from WebCT and compared attendance Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education 1(2), 2002, pp 66-70. records with last year. The results were very consistent [11] Rogers, P. L., "Traditions to Transformations: The Forced with these from the questionnaires and show that students‟ Evolution of Higher Education," in Educational Technology performance in summative assessment has been Review, 9(1), 2001. significantly improved. It also shows that students have

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