Technology and passive   withdrawers Wide Open Symposium 1/11/11 Jan Jones,  Learning & Teaching Development  IET
Background <ul><li>Part of a project to explore retention on L185: English for Academic Purposes Online </li></ul><ul><li>...
Methodology <ul><li>Passive withdrawers identified by the team  </li></ul><ul><li>Email invitation sent to sample availabl...
Passive withdrawer interviewees <ul><li>7 were from BME backgrounds </li></ul><ul><li>6 were EAL students </li></ul><ul><l...
Expectations of an online module <ul><li>3 withdrawers hadn’t realised that the module  </li></ul><ul><li>was ‘entirely on...
Preparation for an online module The advice was that you need to be used to computers and my answer is ‘yes, I am used to ...
Navigation With this course if the computer crashed or you couldn’t remember where you were, then you have to log back in ...
Accessing the online tutorials I’ve not been able to get to the online tutorials because they are at a certain time when I...
Using the online tools <ul><li>78% students use a laptop all/most of the time  </li></ul><ul><li>73% found the module webs...
Accessibility and online study <ul><li>Some students with disabilities struggle to  </li></ul><ul><li>study ‘entirely onli...
Help and support in using technology <ul><li>I was very concerned so I went twice to the office in Camden  </li></ul><ul><...
Digital literacy <ul><li>These findings suggest there is a difference  </li></ul><ul><li>between level of confidence in us...
Studying online v printed materials <ul><li>I prefer a book because I can read beyond a given topic to get more knowledge....
Studying online and widening  participation – is there a conflict? <ul><li>The Learning & Teaching focus area means improv...
Positive trends in the survey results <ul><li>87% satisfied with the teaching materials (60%) </li></ul><ul><li>82% satisf...
Widening participation in an online  context – what can we do? Offer IT   support through volunteer ‘module  champions’ or...
References <ul><li>Cull, B.W. (2011) Reading Revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in  </li></ul><...
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Educational technology and passive withdrawers - Jan Jones

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Based on a recent project for L185: English for Academic Purposes in which a series of telephone interviews were conducted, Jan Jones (IET) reports on the experience of passive withdrawers’ use of educational technologies, most of whom did not have English as a first language.

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  • Thanks for coming. Introduce myself Work in the LTD team on a range of projects including all types of evaluation, developmental testing, usability testing of new websites/software. Explain that the work I’ve done on L185 started with the dev testing, mid-course survey 2010B, and now a survey to all students (mid course) 2011B and the qualitative study with passive withdrawers. Explain what I will talk about. Questions (at the end)….another activity?????
  • L185 is an entirely online ’additional rather than a key introductory’ module designed to help students who want to improve their academic reading and writing skills in the English language. 30 credit Level 1 delivered by Open ELT in FELS. There are 5 TMAs and an EMA. The module uses a range of educational technologies including Elluminate for online tutorials, discussion forums and audio-recording tools a speaking assignment. Discussion paper for HEFCE by David Watson , Institute of Education Accessed 28.9.11 Implications for Practice of the WP agenda: Course content and course delivery. Establishing and providing what is needed for new kinds of students, including new elements in course content and new forms of delivery and a careful consideration of forms of assessment. This will need to include consideration of the positive and negative implications of changes in the curriculum and changed modes of delivery. L185-10B had under-performed on 8 out of 10 KPIs at the end of its first presentation: 72% said they were satisfied with the quality of the course 72% said they were satisfied with 61% said they were satisfied with the teaching materials provided 59% said the course met their expectation 69% said they enjoyed studying the course Low retention rate. Only 102 out of 216 students had completed . Of these, 30% were new students and 70% continuing students. Most had come via the Arts faculty. Some changes were made to 11B i.e. wiki removed and some changes to assessment. Findings relevant to widening participation symposium because: WP is defined by the Teaching &amp; Learning Research Programme (TLRP, jointly funded by HEFCE and the Economic and Social Research Council), in describing the set of projects it has recently commissioned: ‘ extending and enhancing access to HE experiences of people from under-represented and diverse subject backgrounds, families, groups and communities and positively enabling such people to participate in and benefit from HE. People from socially disadvantaged families and/or deprived geographical areas, includingdeprived remote, rural and coastal areas or from families that have no prior experience of HE may be of key concern. Widening participation is also concerned with diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and social background in particular HE disciplines, modes and institutions. It can also include access and participation across the ages, extending conceptions of learning across the life-course, and in relation to family responsibilities, particularly by gender and maturity (for details on the seven WP projects currently supported by the TLRP see www.tlrp.org).’
  • After sampling 81 students out of 61 passive withdrawers were invited to participate in the evaluation at the end of Block 5.. Data required asap to feed into next presentation…Block 5 is last main teaching block/2 week study break and Block 6 is for review. August so not expecting a brilliant response rate. A survey was also conducted (replacement to EMS)
  • Good response rate due to pro-active contact ? At least half of the passive withdrawers had been attracted to the OU because they had friends who had recommended it. Majority of students are aged between 25 and 49 (79%), 63% female and approx. 30% BME students. (similar for both presentations) The focus in this presentation is on their use of educational technologies. A lot of other data was obtained, e.g. workload, topic relevance, support, KPIs, etc. Findings considered relevant to the WP symposium because: WP is defined by the Teaching &amp; Learning Research Programme (TLRP, jointly funded by HEFCE and the Economic and Social Research Council), in describing the set of projects it has recently commissioned: ‘ extending and enhancing access to HE experiences of people from under-represented and diverse subject backgrounds, families, groups and communities and positively enabling such people to participate in and benefit from HE. People from socially disadvantaged families and/or deprived geographical areas, including deprived remote, rural and coastal areas or from families that have no prior experience of HE may be of key concern. Widening participation is also concerned with diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and social background in particular HE disciplines, modes and institutions. It can also include access and participation across the ages, extending conceptions of learning across the life-course, and in relation to family responsibilities, particularly by gender and maturity (for details on the seven WP projects currently supported by the TLRP see www.tlrp.org).’ Basically any student who wasn’t white and upper or middle class .
  • Previous experiences can influence expectations. I was expecting you would have more time to speak with the tutor and to meet other students. Maybe we could’ve met at the Open University? I didn’t expect I would be on the laptop all the time. I expected that we would be able to talk with someone. It put me down a little bit. The support was there but I had to go out there and find it. I had to contact people … (P4)… Young, BME student who had just completed a years study at a local FE college.
  • I don’t think I was prepared. I had thought my computer skills were good as I’m used to using Word, etc. but I found it difficult to get to Elluminate and to download the audio recording tool. (P5) This feedback from a new OU student in her early 60s who was also an EAL student. She spoke very good English but chose to study the module to develop her reading and writing skills in English for academic purpose There seems to be a difference between’ competence in using a computer’ and ‘studying an entirely online module that incorporates a range of software packages e.g. Elluminate and online audio recording tools’ as well as requiring students to write assignments on a computer and send them electronically. (EPD Learning and Teaching Guide: Learn About Digital Literacy) says ‘Being able to access and use technology is not the same as knowing how to use it to learn effectively and creatively. This suggests that ‘digital literacy’ is central to enabling people to be lifelong learners; and with the shifting demographic pattern toward a much larger older UK population, perhaps her words should be taken very seriously. Continuing OU students who had passively withdrawn said they preferred a blended approach to learning where some face-to-face tuition was available and some print based materials were provided. NB. Start of 10B (n=217) 39% NS 61% Cont. End 30% NS and Cont 70% (n=102).
  • Student was a taxi driver who studied on his laptop between jobs (Internet access therefore variable) Suggests he made need tuition in what Hague and Payton (2010) call ‘functional technology skills’. For me the difficulty was getting a grip of the entire modus operandi . I prefer to sit and read a book. I know have to get up to speed with computers because this is a computer age. What I have done so far is quite relevant. I worked my way through a lot of the materials. They were excellent. It has quality and form, but it was just that my patience, my endurance…. The assignments weren’t difficult, but you have to go through the computer, go back to this, go back to that, go back and forth. Finding your way around the website was difficult. I did scan through the computer support guide. I would’ve liked to have had some of the materials available in print form.
  • Only 2 interviewees had accessed the online tutorials, another said ‘I think so’. Issue with guidance/level of competence..f2f??
  • The 11B Survey (42% response rate/67 students) findings show: 80% students aged 26-35 use a laptop all of the time 73% found the module website easy to use. ( 27% do not find it easy ) 71% were confident in using all the technologies required for the assignments in L185 so far. (after Block 5) ( 29% were still not confident ) 82% had participated in the online tutorials (at some point) 85% students said the drag and drop activities were easy to use Qual Data from the survey also shows that some students find the the drag and drop/highlighter activities difficult to use because they don’t fit on the main screen view , students using a netbook or an iPad found these types of activities particularly difficult. KPIs Improvement in satisfaction with the teaching materials provided on the module : 60% were satisfied at the end of 10B 87% were satisfied in 11B (of those who had got to Block 5) Worse thing about studying L185: online learning
  • I think this is part of the reason why I haven’t really read the whole course. The idea of sitting at a computer… I nod off eventually because the flicker affects my eyes and some of the modules are 30-40 pages long. That is very expensive on printer ink . I would have preferred to have each block in a book form so I didn’t necessarily have to sit at the computer to do it. (P8 ) It would’ve been really helpful to have had a paper/print summary of a lot of the material or a booklet…you can often do quite a bit of studying on a bus, for example, but you obviously can’t if it’s all online. You have to be attached to a computer…one of the problems I have is with the joints in my hands so when it’s all online there is only a limited amount of time I can study for before I have to stop and give my hands a rest. I have a couple of disabilities, but the one that causes the most problems is an underlying hypermobility syndrome that causes repetitive strain injury and things like that . Being online a lot has affected it. That’s part of the reason why I got behind. Printing all the material off can be quite expensive , so I’ve only printed so me of the material out. (P9)
  • ‘ The support was there but I had to go out there and find it. I had to contact people ’ (L4)…Young student who had just completed 2 years at MK college. The only thing that really ‘put me down’ was the lack of face-to-face . Several of the passive withdrawers had had email contact with their tutor and/or used the discussion forums to get help. Other projects I have worked on have also shown that many WP students find the forums useful. Follow up research…Some WP groups may already be familiar with using Facebook and more likely to be happy in such an online environment…the impact of using Facebook and support it could provide WP students? Many widening participation students have the ‘double burden’ of familiarising themselves with a new online environment and in this instance, a more generic approach to teaching academic writing skills.
  • European Framework for Digital Literacy (205) says DL is: The ability to succeed in encounters with the electronic infrastructures and tools that make possible the world of the twenty-first century BECTA: DL is the skills, knowledge and understanding that enables critical, creative, discerning and safe practices when engaging with digital technologies in all areas of life. (Would it be better to put this statement in a slide and to discuss what’s currently in the slide?) Being able to access and use technology is not the same as knowing how to use it to learn effectively. An argument for developing a Level 1 digital literacy skills module and/or embedding into the start of Level 1 modules. I know there is work going on in different places across the OU.
  • P6 said he preferred a book because he ‘could read beyond a given topic to get more knowledge ’. This comment illustrates one of the issues discussed by Cull (2011) who discusses the cognitive differences between reading online and reading printed materials. 8 of the 9 passive withdrawers said they would have liked some printed study materials. They improve flexibility. One survey respondent said: It’s all oline –I’m unable to ‘juggle’ different pages at one time. It’s not good for my eyesight or posture, It’s not transportable so doesn’t fit into my life, e.g. I can’t read something whilst my son is using the computer.. If we are really trying to improve pedagogy and the student experience, why are we reducing the types of tuition and support that WP students are telling us they want, e.g. some printed materials and some face-to-face tuition at this level of study? A current interview study evaluating the Writing Support available to K101 students is suggesting that students like the Good Study Guide (printed text) rather than the online support because they can pick it up easily when they get a few minutes to spare. All of those interviewed so far say the f2f tuition at the start of the module was really helpful for developing their writing skills (how to write an essay and referencing in particular). Also as one successful EAL student said “Time was the tricky bit; with family, work and children there is not a lot of time to study, so if you have a book it’s easier if you have a little bit of time to flick through the book, rather than to sit down at the computer, start it up and then look at some website”
  • Is there a conflict between the ‘learning and teaching’ focus and ‘improving the student experience’ focus? Previous research with WP students in FELS has shown: Most WP students had experienced technical problems when participating in the online tutorials. None of the WP students who had withdrawn from study, studied only one Level 1 module or who did not continue at Level 2 were keen on the online tuition that took the place of f2f tuition at the Intermediate level.
  • 42% response rate (n=67) 10B had a 41% response rate (n=30) Suggestions are that this wholly online module is meeting the needs of the majority of students. What’s the best thing about studying L185 so far? The most frequently quoted feedback (20) was the improvement in their knowledge and understanding of academic English . Approx. 1/3 said t he online experience. There were no books involved. It built my confidence in using the ICT systems. Increased confidence in using the computer. I now know it is possible to study online. About half of the comments received when asked What’s the worst thing about studying L185 were about online learning and using the tools provided. So although many students enjoy online learning and using the technologies, they were one of the most common reasons why students passively withdrew from the module. Ensuring the right sort of help and support is available for those who struggle with technology may be key to retaining these students. So what can we do….
  • It is not online support they necessarily want, it’s…f2f and/or an opportunity to talk to someone. 1) Is there anything the OU could have done to help you continue with L185? Communication I think, but it’s probably my fault. I should have been communicating in a more forceful way. I should have been taking the initiative He was very appreciative that I had contacted him, took it as giving him personal support. Currently evaluating K101 students’ experience of the writing support they received. The data are showing that the students find the first f2f tutorial extremely useful for developing their writing skills, in particular how to construct an essay/referencing, etc. Student support reviewing looking at this. Volunteer IT support…students often prefer to talk to other students, volunteers can put activities on their CVs and it helps to develop their own skills. Time and time again I would here, I would’ve liked some face-to-face tuition. Continuing OU students preferred the blended approach.
  • Educational technology and passive withdrawers - Jan Jones

    1. 1. Technology and passive withdrawers Wide Open Symposium 1/11/11 Jan Jones, Learning & Teaching Development IET
    2. 2. Background <ul><li>Part of a project to explore retention on L185: English for Academic Purposes Online </li></ul><ul><li>To obtain a rich picture of the reasons why students ‘passively withdraw’ from L185 </li></ul><ul><li>Passive withdrawers are students who had submitted no more than two TMAs </li></ul><ul><li>New and/or BME students were targeted </li></ul>
    3. 3. Methodology <ul><li>Passive withdrawers identified by the team </li></ul><ul><li>Email invitation sent to sample available at </li></ul><ul><li>the end of Block 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Special attention was paid to the language </li></ul><ul><li>used in the invitation </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured telephone discussions (x9) </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions were recorded and transcribed </li></ul>
    4. 4. Passive withdrawer interviewees <ul><li>7 were from BME backgrounds </li></ul><ul><li>6 were EAL students </li></ul><ul><li>4 males and 5 females </li></ul><ul><li>Age range 29 to 54 </li></ul><ul><li>6 new and 3 continuing OU students </li></ul><ul><li>5 had submitted 0 TMAs, 4 had submitted 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Previous qualifications varied widely </li></ul>
    5. 5. Expectations of an online module <ul><li>3 withdrawers hadn’t realised that the module </li></ul><ul><li>was ‘entirely online’ </li></ul>I didn’t realise that L185 was entirely online, so I wasn’t prepared for it. I have done an entirely online course with LearnDirect, but that was different. With LearnDirect when you returned to the website, it took you straight back to where you left off. It was a lot easier….
    6. 6. Preparation for an online module The advice was that you need to be used to computers and my answer is ‘yes, I am used to computers, I do emails, I can write using word processing and I do spreadsheets and everything, but not something like that….the description was okay but it was the delivery of the materials. Using a computer in this way is different from how I usually use it. Maybe in the description it could say a bit more about what you have to do. It’s not the materials; it’s the technical aspects that were difficult for me.
    7. 7. Navigation With this course if the computer crashed or you couldn’t remember where you were, then you have to log back in again and you have to go through it page by page to find out where you were. My computer crashed several times. You have to remember what unit, what block, what page number and all on that. I don’t believe the course is easily accessible. That is the main problem I had. I need someone to show me. I found it difficult to follow the course online. It’s very hard to find your way around. It would be a lot easier if it took you back to the page where you last started when you log back in. I was surprised that was not the case. It was very annoying.
    8. 8. Accessing the online tutorials I’ve not been able to get to the online tutorials because they are at a certain time when I wasn’t available. The teacher did try to explain to me how to get there, but it didn’t sink in. I still don’t know how I can get to the online tutorials, where to click…. I spoke to my tutor once or twice and had a few emails with her. But I would like to have been shown how to get there. I still need some face-to-face tuition.
    9. 9. Using the online tools <ul><li>78% students use a laptop all/most of the time </li></ul><ul><li>73% found the module website easy to use </li></ul><ul><li>73% said Elluminate is easy to install </li></ul><ul><li>85% students said the drag and drop activities </li></ul><ul><li>were easy to use </li></ul><ul><li>71% were confident in using all the </li></ul><ul><li>technologies required for the assignments in </li></ul><ul><li>L185 so far (i.e. at the end of Block 5) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Accessibility and online study <ul><li>Some students with disabilities struggle to </li></ul><ul><li>study ‘entirely online’ materials. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, those who have a vision- </li></ul><ul><li>Impairment and those with arthritic </li></ul><ul><li>or joint mobility problems that affect the </li></ul><ul><li>wrists </li></ul>
    11. 11. Help and support in using technology <ul><li>I was very concerned so I went twice to the office in Camden </li></ul><ul><li>but no-one could explain me anything. I am sorry to have to </li></ul><ul><li>say this. Then I spoke to my tutor….she was very nice, but she </li></ul><ul><li>thinks that other sections of the University have to resolve my </li></ul><ul><li>computer problems. She told me to ring the Computer Helpdesk. It’s hard for someone to explain it on the phone. If I could talk </li></ul><ul><li>to someone who could show me how to go through it step by </li></ul><ul><li>step then maybe I could do it…..It is complicated to switch from </li></ul><ul><li>the course materials the online… </li></ul>
    12. 12. Digital literacy <ul><li>These findings suggest there is a difference </li></ul><ul><li>between level of confidence in using a </li></ul><ul><li>computer and using the technologies that </li></ul><ul><li>are embedded in an entirely online module: </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. Elluminate and online audio recording </li></ul><ul><li>tools, electronic TMA submission and </li></ul><ul><li>complex navigation </li></ul>
    13. 13. Studying online v printed materials <ul><li>I prefer a book because I can read beyond a given topic to get more knowledge. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Studying online and widening participation – is there a conflict? <ul><li>The Learning & Teaching focus area means improving </li></ul><ul><li>pedagogy and reducing costs </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding and improving the student learning </li></ul><ul><li>experience in this context suggests that some </li></ul><ul><li>print-based materials and some face to face tuition </li></ul><ul><li>should be available </li></ul><ul><li>Should L185 be a ‘key introductory’ Level 1 module </li></ul><ul><li>given its role in improving writing and literacy skills? </li></ul>
    15. 15. Positive trends in the survey results <ul><li>87% satisfied with the teaching materials (60%) </li></ul><ul><li>82% satisfied with their study experience (73%) </li></ul><ul><li>84% were enjoying the module (69%) </li></ul><ul><li>81% would recommend this module (75%) </li></ul><ul><li>82% the module is meeting its learning </li></ul><ul><li>outcomes (78%) </li></ul><ul><li>96% satisfied with the tutor support provided (86%) </li></ul>
    16. 16. Widening participation in an online context – what can we do? Offer IT support through volunteer ‘module champions’ or peer mentors Offer some face-to-face tuition or a podcast to show how the technologies work 1 2 3 Ask tutors to be more pro-active in contacting WP students
    17. 17. References <ul><li>Cull, B.W. (2011) Reading Revolutions: Online digital text and implications for reading in </li></ul><ul><li>academe, First Monday , Volume 16, Number 6. Online at: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3340/2985 </li></ul><ul><li>Goodfellow, R. & Reedy, K (2010) Learn about Digital Literacy (EPD Guide) </li></ul><ul><li>http://epd.open.ac.uk/browseLAG.cfm?lagID=66&method=displayLAGDetails </li></ul><ul><li>Jary, D. & Jones, R. Widening Participation: Overview and Commentary, HEA. </li></ul><ul><li>Jones, J. & Kirkup, G. (2010) Report on Widening participation case studies for FELS </li></ul><ul><li>language programmes http://kn.open.ac.uk/document.cfm?docid=13181 </li></ul><ul><li>Jones, J. & Kirkup, G. (2010) The Experience of Widening Participation students on FELS </li></ul><ul><li>Foundation Course 2009-2010: http://kn.open.ac.uk/document.cfm?docid=13180 </li></ul><ul><li>Watson, D. (2006) How to think about widening participation in UK higher education, </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion paper for HEFCE. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rdreports/2006/rd13_06/ </li></ul><ul><li> Jan Jones, </li></ul><ul><li> Learning and Teaching Development, IET </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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