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Quality factors influencing online education

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  • 1. RESEARCH FOCUS: QUALITYFACTORS THAT INFLUENCEONLINE DELIVERY Sustainable Rural Development: requires extension of traditional HE teaching opportunities to build capacities and empower communities…through the use of innovative distance learning techniquesApril 2012 Dr Michael M Smith
  • 2. Online Education: Areas of Interest RESEARCH SOUGHT TO INVESTIGATE: - What are primary quality indicators applicable to online education? - What delivery model and techniques are most appropriate for modern-day e-learners? - What are the design implications for online courses? - To what extent can such strategies impact on student retention?
  • 3. Definitions & Context Not ‘traditional’ (f2f) & Not ‘blended’ learning (VC and ‘shovelware’) Growth of online education: 19% p.a. in US (2009) V 1.5% for traditional HE Course Growth Global online enrolment Growth Rate at 35.6% p.a. (Sun, 2008) Key Question-The new paradigm in education worldwide? (Sun, 2008) 80.8% of large HE institutions consider online education as being ‘critical to their long-term strategy’ (Allen & Seaman, 2010) 87% - increase in demand for online education by US Public institutions (2010) Internet availability in UK has grown to 76% of households and of these 97% are now broadband connections. 78% of households now own laptops (OFCOM, 2010)
  • 4. Background Factors (Rationale) 24/7 Global Information Society Ever-Changing Skills & Knowledge Requirements Need for Lifelong Learning to meet changing workplace demands and extend to all areas of society - ‘digital inclusion’ Growth in demand for part-time, flexible learning Increasing provision of online courses, but with higher drop-out rates and lower completion rates Increasing focus on ‘quality’ of provision to more effectively meeting growing demand and ‘student-centred’ learning Need for increasing research on how to provide ‘quality’ in the online context.
  • 5. Summary of Key Findings: Online teaching is on average three times as time consuming (Palloff & Pratt, 2001) than traditional methods, as there are an enhanced set of key responsibilities and requirements for ‘quality’ online teaching professionals including (not in order of perceived importance): Enhance Student Preparedness for Online Study, Pre-Enrolment Develop individual Tutor-Student Interaction & Communications Develop Student Knowledge of Delivery Technologies Develop Student ‘Digital Literacy’ & ICT Skills Develop Student-Student Interaction (Community of Practice) Implement Specific ‘Social Constructivist’ Course Design Measures
  • 6. The Enhanced Role of the Online Tutor
  • 7. The Online Education Overheads: Institutions and Faculties need to understand better what is involved in supporting online education. Non-teaching commitments supporting students are significant and result in a much higher workload than f2f (Gibbs & Gosper, 2006). Staff development and training – technical skills, design skills, pedagogic skills, admin. and digital literacy skills (some staff will be overwhelmed with requirements for online education). The on-going demands of online engagement through the working week results in ‘chunking’ (Thompson, 2004) and a lack of uninterrupted time, which impacts on other professional and academic responsibilities (e.g. Writing and content production).
  • 8. Lack of Commitment to Demands of Online Education= Lack of student retention and lack of quality
  • 9. So who were these e-learning students? N = 504 What is your gender? (Please tick): What age were you on your last birthday? 13% 19% 23.2% Age 15-21 Male 22-35 Female76.8% 36-50 38% Over 50 30% What is your study status? (please tick): 4.8% Where did you register as a student? (Please tick): 9.4% 6.2% 3.3% 2.5% Full-time Part-time UHI University of Gloucestershire Studying individual University College Dublin module(s) Other (please name) Other34.8% 51.0% 87.9%
  • 10. Items Median (Mean*) Score SD(%) D(%) N(%) A(%) SA (%)Measure 1 – ICT Access, Skills & KnowledgeLocation of resources through University Library Service 4.0 (3.75) 2.1 12.4 13.2 53.5 18.8Location of resources through WWW and Search Engines 4.0 (3.99) 1.2 7.4 10.3 53.1 27.9Level of Technical Support 4.0 (3.74) 1.0 7.7 27.7 43.8 19.8ICT & Internet Skills on Entry 4.0 (3.83) 2.1 7.4 15.7 54.8 20.0Flexibility of online format 4.0 (4.00) 3.6 6.1 17.4 32.9 40.0Measure 2 – Preparedness & ReadinessUnderstanding of course on entry 3.0 (3.26) 3.4 19.0 31.1 41.8 4.7Understanding of privacy and security threats on entry 4.0 (3.75) 2.5 7.6 24.1 44.6 21.2Understanding of time commitment required 4.0 (3.22) 5.6 28.0 13.4 44.5 8.5Effectiveness of Study Skills on entry 3.0 (3.19) 4.5 23.0 27.9 37.9 6.7Rating of value of student handbook 3.0 (3.23) 3.1 17.6 37.7 35.7 5.8Measure 3 – Tutor – Student InteractionsQuality of dialogue with tutor 4.0 (3.67) 2.3 8.2 26.3 46.0 17.1Link between weekly tutor role and success 4.0 (3.89) 3.0 7.7 16.4 42.5 30.4Timely tutor feedback and responses to questions 4.0 (4.09) 1.7 3.8 16.1 41.4 37.1Importance of contact with student adviser 4.0 (3.83) 1.6 9.2 21.9 39.3 28.0Ongoing rapport/social interaction with student group 4.0 (4.12) 0.2 3.3 14.1 49.4 32.9Measure 4 – Student-Student InteractionsLevel of dialogue with classmates 3.0 (3.16) 8.0 20.3 28.8 33.6 9.3Imp. of student interactions to overcome ‘isolation’ 4.0 (3.83) 2.4 5.0 24.4 43.4 24.9Imp. of responding to peers within learning experience 4.0 (3.62) 2.6 9.0 28.5 43.6 16.3Group assessment and importance of interactivity role 4.0 (3.43) 3.3 10.2 35.6 41.6 9.3Importance of ‘meeting-up’ in creating online community 4.0 (3.72) 2.6 12.6 20.0 39.9 24.9Measure 5 – Course Design & PedagogyImportance of design, structure & presentation 4.0 (4.33) 0.0 1.2 5.5 51.9 41.3Tutor management & effectiveness 4.0 (3.61) 1.7 10.9 24.5 50.6 12.4Importance of Web 2.0 technologies 3.0 (3.39) 3.6 15.3 32.9 35.0 13.2Importance of weekly participation and final mark 3.0 (3.10) 10.1 23.3 23.0 34.1 9.6Importance of similar design and style templates 4.0 (3.88) 1.2 5.1 19.5 53.0 21.2Measure 6 – Delivery TechnologiesDemand and effectiveness of podcasts 4.0 (3.23) 14.6 10.0 23.2 42.0 10.2Demand and effectiveness of e-library 3.0 (3.26) 5.8 18.9 30.1 33.3 11.9Transferability of e-skills 4.0 (3.57) 1.7 9.5 31.7 43.9 13.2Depth of e-learning 3.0 (3.12) 8.1 22.3 29.9 29.2 10.5e-tutoring skills 4.0 (4.02) 1.0 3.7 14.9 53.3 27.1DV: Measure of Quality & EffectivenessWould recommend the course 4.0 (3.99) 1.5 5.8 13.6 50.4 28.7Have learned a lot 4.0 (4.24) 0.7 1.9 8.7 49.5 39.1Enjoyed taking the course 4.0 (4.11) 1.0 4.4 14.1 43.9 36.7
  • 11. Quality Indicator 1 – ICT Access, Skills & Knowledge 100% 18.8 19.8 20 90% 27.9 40 80% 70% 60% 43.8 53.5 54.8 SA (%) 50% 53.1 32.9 A(%) 40% N(%) 30% D(%) 13.2 27.7 SD(%) 20% 15.7 17.4 10.3 10% 0% Measure 1 - ICT Location of Location of Level of ICT & Internet Flexibility of Access, Skills & resources through resources through Technical Skills on Entry online format Knowledge University WWW and Support Library Service Search Engines
  • 12. Quality Indicator 2 – Preparedness & Readiness100 4.7 8.5 6.7 5.8 21.2 80 35.7 41.8 37.9 44.5 60 44.6 SA (%) A(%) N(%) 13.4 27.9 37.7 40 31.1 D(%) SD(%) 24.1 20 0 Measure 2 - Understanding of Understanding of Understanding of Effectiveness of Rating of value of Preparedness & course on entry privacy and time commitment Study Skills on student handbook Readiness security threats on required entry entry
  • 13. Quality Indicator 3 – Tutor – Student Interactions100% 17.1 90% 28 30.4 32.9 37.1 80% 70% 46 60% SA (%) 39.3 42.5 A(%) 50% 41.4 49.4 N(%) 40% D(%) SD(%) 30% 26.3 21.9 20% 16.4 16.1 14.1 10% 0% Measure 3 - Tutor Quality of Link between Timely tutor Importance of Ongoing - Student dialogue with tutor weekly tutor role feedback and contact with rapport/social Interactions and success responses to student adviser interaction with questions student group
  • 14. Quality Indicator 4 – Student – Student Interactions100% 9.3 9.3 16.3 90% 24.9 24.9 80% 33.6 41.6 70% 43.6 60% SA (%) 43.4 39.9 A(%) 50% 28.8 N(%) 40% D(%) 35.6 SD(%) 30% 28.5 20 24.4 20% 10% 0% Measure 4 - Level of dialogue Imp. of student Imp. of responding Group assessment Importance of Student-Student with classmates interactions to to peers within and importance of meeting-up in Interactions overcome learning interactivity role creating online isolation experience community
  • 15. Quality Indicator 5 – Course Design & Pedagogy100% 12.4 13.2 9.6 90% 21.2 80% 41.3 34.1 70% 35 50.6 60% SA (%) 53 A(%) 50% 23 N(%) 40% D(%) 32.9 51.9 SD(%) 30% 24.5 20% 19.5 10% 5.5 0% Measure 5 - Importance of Tutor management Importance of Importance of Importance of Course Design & design, structure & & effectiveness Web 2.0 weekly similar design and Pedagogy presentation technologies participation and style templates final mark
  • 16. Quality Indicator 6 – Delivery Technologies100% 10.2 11.9 13.2 10.5 90% 27.1 80% 29.2 33.3 70% 42 43.9 60% SA (%) A(%) 50% 53.3 29.9 N(%) 30.1 D(%) 40% 23.2 SD(%) 30% 31.7 20% 14.9 10% 0% Measure 6 - Demand and Demand and Transferability of Depth of e- e-tutoring skills Delivery effectiveness of effectiveness of e- e-skills learning Technologies podcasts library
  • 17. The Dependent Variable: The Measure of Quality100% 90% 28.7 36.7 35.1 36.5 39.1 80% 70% 60% SA (%) A(%) 50% 50.4 N(%) 43.9 40% D(%) 49.5 55.1 53.5 SD(%) 30% 20% 13.6 14.1 10% 8.7 8.8 9.2 0% DV: Measure of Would recommend Have learned a lot Enjoyed taking the Interactive & Thought-provoking Quality & the course course supportive tutors design Effectiveness
  • 18. These are the highlights....so what are the key insights? Quantitative data plus additional information streams from Focus Groups + Qualitative Data led to following conclusions: A consistent ‘online’ design and delivery philosophy is crucial to meeting the demands of learners (-what works in the classroom f2f will not necessarily work at home on a PC) Group-based, active, socialised learning focused on: collaboration, problem-solving, constructing knowledge collectively, reflection, sharing and then communicating ideas + understanding between and within student group(s) – e.g. Dyads and Triads. A new redefined role for the online tutor in being a facilitator and ‘scaffolder’ of knowledge, developing a ‘community of practice’. Online education practitioners need to possess key e-tutoring skills including technical knowledge, digital literacy, participation, design socialisation and assessment and feedback skills..etc
  • 19. So what is quality online education? A form of online education where the students on entry are prepared, ready and possess the appropriate digital literacy and internet-based communication skills. A form of online education where students receive prompt and early feedback in response to questions and assessment. A form of online education where students develop and form lasting social relationships with their peers via regular, active, meaningful participation in a community of practice/inquiry. A form of online education that delivers a consistent and interactive course design which is updated regularly. A form of online education deliver by skilled e-tutors who have the support of their institution and recognition of their peers. A form of online education informed by student feedback.
  • 20. Some final thoughts on Quality in Online Education The non-teaching activities/communications of the e-tutor are often as important and time-consuming as the teaching input. Just as delivering online education can take X3 as long in terms of time, participating students can also be overwhelmed by online workloads unless managed effectively by tutors. Social constructivist approaches are fundamental to providing the appropriate learning environment for online students. Online students need to be taught how to learn online in many instances and require a key set of basic skills. Flexibility, empathy and encouragement are key attitudes and part of the “duty of care” required to enable adult returners succeed in online education. UHI needs to develop an online ‘kitemark’ with minimum standards
  • 21. BSc (Hons) Sustainable DevelopmentFor further information please contact:Dr Michael M SmithUHI Programme Leader – Sustainable DevelopmentTelephone: 01851 770 407Email: Michael.Smith@lews.uhi.ac.ukWeb: http://www.uhi.ac.uk/sustainable