Developing student learning online
in History: research, approaches and
their broader implications
Dr Jamie Wood
Universit...
This talk
1. Survey of e-learning
in History HE: student
and staff opinions
2. Digital literacy, active
online learning an...
Part 1: e-learning in History HE
• 2012-13: survey and desk research of
staff and student experiences and
perceptions of e...
E-learning and History teaching survey
• What are benefits of elearning for student
learning and staff teaching
in History...
METHODOLOGY
• Survey (http://tinyurl.com/8kkz524) administered to 1st and
2nd year students at 5 UK History departments
– ...
RESULTS (from students)
TYPES OF TECHNOLOGY USED
Virtual learning environments

37

Discussion boards

24

Video (YouTube ...
HOW IMPORTANT ARE TECHNOLOGIES TO YOUR LEARNING?
(between 1 and 10, where 1=not at all; 10=essential)

Frequency

12

10

...
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY
FOR LEARNING?
• Virtual learning environments (31
responses); used as:

– repository...
Reported uses of technology
Uses

Percentage of students
using technology for this
purpose

Looking up lecture slides and ...
Virtual learning environments:
benefits and drawbacks
Discussion boards are useful because
they make visible ‘the skills o...
YouTube provides access to ‘better
lectures’ and enhanced learning
‘tremendously’

‘The ability to hear historical speeche...
EXTENT TO WHICH TECHNOLOGIES ENHANCED
LEARNING IN FOLLOWING AREAS...
(students provided rating from 1-5: 1=not at all; 5=a...
NEGATIVE IMPACTS
• Technical issues

• Too much reliance on repositories?
‘sort of dumbing down or levelling out
[...] the...
Staff perspectives: positive impacts?
• Enhancing communication due to (most) students’
familiarity with technology + expe...
Staff perspectives: some warnings
• Students not necessarily ‘digital
natives’, esp. within discipline
• Researching using...
SUMMARY
• Virtual learning environments predominate and are
viewed positively by students and staff
• BUT danger of ‘misco...
Part 2: Digital literacy, active online
learning and disciplinary identity
• How to overcome some of shortcomings of
over-...
Caveats
• Not about replacing classrooms with digital spaces
• Not about changing from developing historical
knowledge and...
PART IIA: Social bookmarking and the
questioning historian
Social bookmarking
• Internet users manage
bookmarks of web pages online
(not an individual browser)
using tags/ descripti...
•Diigo
education
edition
•Private, separ
ate logins
•Sharing
•Highlighting
•Sticky-noting
Basic weekly activity
• Students find online
resources relating to the
weekly topic
• Students ‘tag’, describe
and share r...
Non-written sources
• Find and bookmark a nonwritten source (YouTube;
Flickr)
• In description, explain why
this source is...
What happened
• 19 students
• 147 posts to the forum
(over 11 seminars)
• 314 bookmarks, using
590 different tags
STUDENT FEEDBACK
1. Practical: for preparing
essays
2. Independence: enjoyed
opportunity to find
sources
3. Freedom: ‘Ther...
Setting questions – 3 conceptions
By tutor: reassuring; makes sure what you are doing is
relevant + useful; student questi...
LEARNING FROM OTHERS
• ‘it has been good to see what
other people have put and there
was probably more variation in
the qu...
POSING QUESTIONS AND SOURCES
• ‘it forces you to think
about the source material
and be analytical in
response to it’
• ‘i...
• Models disciplinary
processes (= what
historians do)
– *+ it’s realistic and honest+

• Develops
– Disciplinary skills:
...
PART IIB: ‘MAKING DIGITAL HISTORY’
AT LINCOLN
• Enable students to make digital resources
using the Xerte online toolkit
–...
Generative learning objects

http://makingdigitalhistory.co.uk/resources/learning-design/generative-learningobjects-glos/
Xerte
• Online editor (not based on specific PC/ laptop) in which
users manipulate content
–
–
–
–
–

Text
Images
Video, a...
Context
• Student as Producer
– Underpins T&L strategy at Lincoln
• http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/

• Digital Lit...
Making Digital History: students
as partners in online
learning, teaching and research
• Students learn by making Xerte le...
5 modules
• Y1, Y2, MA
– East meets West: primary source report
– Representing the Past: student research questions
inform...
An example
• Friendship: Medieval Perspectives

• For more examples (student work coming
soon…!), see:
• http://makingdigi...
Concluding thoughts
• VLEs support learning and are viewed positively
• But remaining gaps may be addressed by
thinking mo...
More about me
• http://staff.lincoln.ac.uk/jwood (homepage at Lincoln)
• http://ulincoln.academia.edu/JamieWood (L&T and
o...
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Developing student learning online in History: research, approaches and their broader implications

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Presentation given and History UK plenary, Institute of Historical Research, London, 16th November 2013

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Developing student learning online in History: research, approaches and their broader implications

  1. 1. Developing student learning online in History: research, approaches and their broader implications Dr Jamie Wood University of Lincoln History UK, 16th November 2013 Digital T&L at Lincoln: http://makingdigitalhistory.co.uk Twitter: @woodjamie99
  2. 2. This talk 1. Survey of e-learning in History HE: student and staff opinions 2. Digital literacy, active online learning and disciplinary identity A. Social bookmarking and the questioning historian B. Making Digital History @ Lincoln
  3. 3. Part 1: e-learning in History HE • 2012-13: survey and desk research of staff and student experiences and perceptions of e-learning in History teaching • HEA report, co-authored with Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo, University of Lincoln
  4. 4. E-learning and History teaching survey • What are benefits of elearning for student learning and staff teaching in History HE? • What are the challenges and drawbacks of elearning?
  5. 5. METHODOLOGY • Survey (http://tinyurl.com/8kkz524) administered to 1st and 2nd year students at 5 UK History departments – 38 students responded (11 x 1st years/ 27 x 2nd years) – Mainly History, but also joint degrees • Interview with 1 member of teaching staff at 5 UK History departments
  6. 6. RESULTS (from students) TYPES OF TECHNOLOGY USED Virtual learning environments 37 Discussion boards 24 Video (YouTube etc.) 19 Audio (podcasts etc.) 12 Social networking (Facebook etc.) 8 Blogs 5 Collaborative document creation (Google docs etc.) 5 Document sharing (Dropbox etc.) 3 Wikis 2 Twitter 1 Photos (Flickr etc.) 1 Other 2
  7. 7. HOW IMPORTANT ARE TECHNOLOGIES TO YOUR LEARNING? (between 1 and 10, where 1=not at all; 10=essential) Frequency 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Rating (1-10) 8 9 10
  8. 8. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY FOR LEARNING? • Virtual learning environments (31 responses); used as: – repository (21 responses) – site for assessment and feedback (5) – means of communication (5) – site for enhancing learning (3) • YouTube/ online library resources/ databases/ university portal (2 responses each)
  9. 9. Reported uses of technology Uses Percentage of students using technology for this purpose Looking up lecture slides and handouts 100 Communication with other students 55.3 Discussion 36.8 Communication with lecturers 31.6 Sharing materials with fellow students and teachers 31.6 Constructing resources for myself or with other students 18.4
  10. 10. Virtual learning environments: benefits and drawbacks Discussion boards are useful because they make visible ‘the skills of other students’ ‘they also helped develop my interest and independent inquiry around the subject, as certain side topics were highlighted in the lecture notes in that they were more featured’ ‘with some modules, all readings were provided on blackboard so improved ease of access, and decreased the amount of time wasted looking for them.’ Repositories ‘helped me to become more independent as the access to the slides meant that I did not necessarily need to attend all lectures.’
  11. 11. YouTube provides access to ‘better lectures’ and enhanced learning ‘tremendously’ ‘The ability to hear historical speeches by the original speechmaker, or to see original newsreel clips is an essential part of research of contemporary history.’ ‘YouTube was more beneficial than writing reams of notes or revision prep and even attending lectures. The resources available on YouTube are vast and specific. I could easily find a video that was more specific if I want to delve into a particular area of study.’
  12. 12. EXTENT TO WHICH TECHNOLOGIES ENHANCED LEARNING IN FOLLOWING AREAS... (students provided rating from 1-5: 1=not at all; 5=a great deal) • Preparing for class: 4.26 (staff: 8.3/10) • Preparing for assessment: 4.26 (6.6/10) • Working independently: 4.05 (6.9/10) • Reflecting on learning: 4.03 (5.9/10) • Subject knowledge: 3.79 (6.9/10) • Skills development: 3.03 (5.2/10) • Collaborative working: 2.45 (3.1/10)
  13. 13. NEGATIVE IMPACTS • Technical issues • Too much reliance on repositories? ‘sort of dumbing down or levelling out [...] these things might encourage a bit more spoon-feeding’ (staff) • Some skills not developed ‘hasn’t really developed skills that I believe are essential part of uni process. i.e. teamwork, discussion and developing your own interest of study’ (student)
  14. 14. Staff perspectives: positive impacts? • Enhancing communication due to (most) students’ familiarity with technology + expectations about use • Improving engagement by (1) supporting students intimidated by more conventional academic environment; (2) enabling reticent students to contribute outside class; (3) providing fora for creating, sharing + commenting • Increasing flexibility, independence + self-directed learning as students can access materials away from campus, aiding preparation, enabling students to learn at their own pace • Enriching the learning experience by providing access to multimedia resources + reducing pressure on hardcopies
  15. 15. Staff perspectives: some warnings • Students not necessarily ‘digital natives’, esp. within discipline • Researching using Internet is challenging • Over-reliance on e-learning can reduce independence • ‘Narrowing’ effect, esp. among L1 + weaker students (VLE contains ‘everything’) • Some resistance to learning + interacting outside class
  16. 16. SUMMARY • Virtual learning environments predominate and are viewed positively by students and staff • BUT danger of ‘miscommunication’ • Independent learning + research skills vs. access to resources • Limiting features • Consistency? ‘Getting all lecturers to embrace technology would be a step forward’ (student) • Staff AND students think that it doesn’t help much in certain areas (e.g. teamworking) • Narrowing/ a closed body of knowledge? Esp. for weaker students perhaps • Can promote transmission approaches (even when not intended)
  17. 17. Part 2: Digital literacy, active online learning and disciplinary identity • How to overcome some of shortcomings of over-reliance on VLE? – Use social media to facilitate engagement and collaboration – Design activities that require active work/ thinking by students = a constructivist approach, actually making stuff
  18. 18. Caveats • Not about replacing classrooms with digital spaces • Not about changing from developing historical knowledge and skills to ‘generic’ skills and knowledge • Not about largely passive consumption of history (so, no MOOCs) • Is about considering how technology can enhance student learning in/ about history as apprentice historians • Is about augmenting face-to-face time with online work • It is about doing and making history online
  19. 19. PART IIA: Social bookmarking and the questioning historian
  20. 20. Social bookmarking • Internet users manage bookmarks of web pages online (not an individual browser) using tags/ descriptions, not folders • Active engagement – students have to do something • Online/ social element – enables collaboration, sharing and visibility See Taha and Wood (2011) for more on this
  21. 21. •Diigo education edition •Private, separ ate logins •Sharing •Highlighting •Sticky-noting
  22. 22. Basic weekly activity • Students find online resources relating to the weekly topic • Students ‘tag’, describe and share resources • Then post questions based on reading to discussion forum in diigo • Resources + questions = my seminar plan • For some of resources see: https://www.diigo.com/us er/pagansxtians
  23. 23. Non-written sources • Find and bookmark a nonwritten source (YouTube; Flickr) • In description, explain why this source is relevant to the seminar But variety is key... Locating and bookmarking source(s) • Find and bookmark primary/ secondary source • Add description and tags Essay writing • Respond to feedback on essays by bookmarking a relevant site • Revise thesis statement from first essay and post to discussion forum Highlighting • Highlight and comment on relevant sections of a pre-selected document Questioning • Post a (specific kind of) question based on reading to the discussion forum ...otherwise it gets boring See appendix to Wood, 2011, for more on this
  24. 24. What happened • 19 students • 147 posts to the forum (over 11 seminars) • 314 bookmarks, using 590 different tags
  25. 25. STUDENT FEEDBACK 1. Practical: for preparing essays 2. Independence: enjoyed opportunity to find sources 3. Freedom: ‘There is more freedom of choice about what to read’ 4. Variety: ‘it is much more interesting, and because you are not only reading, it is easier to absorb information’.
  26. 26. Setting questions – 3 conceptions By tutor: reassuring; makes sure what you are doing is relevant + useful; student questions might not be challenging enough; more likely to lead to a ‘good’ answer; helps with new areas of study Mixture: “A mixture is best to make sure key themes are not overlooked by setting your own questions gets yourself and others thinking more.” By students: “I like the fact that we've got to set our own questions as it means that we focus on areas that I or other members of the group are unsure about. I think I've learnt more from it.”
  27. 27. LEARNING FROM OTHERS • ‘it has been good to see what other people have put and there was probably more variation in the questions than if the tutor was to set them.’ • ‘it allows you to see a wider range of issues that come up from sources - some that you may not even have thought about.’ + 12 out of 15 students felt that their research skills had improved
  28. 28. POSING QUESTIONS AND SOURCES • ‘it forces you to think about the source material and be analytical in response to it’ • ‘it *…+ opens up the area of reading to different paths of thought.’ ‘I used to prefer having the questions set for me but I think it has been more useful setting them myself as it has made me think about the reading more.’
  29. 29. • Models disciplinary processes (= what historians do) – *+ it’s realistic and honest+ • Develops – Disciplinary skills: summarising; using sources – Knowledge: students have to read AND think – ‘Generic’ skills: technology; information literacy; research For more on this see Wood, 2011 and Wood and Ryan, 2010
  30. 30. PART IIB: ‘MAKING DIGITAL HISTORY’ AT LINCOLN • Enable students to make digital resources using the Xerte online toolkit – Online learning design tools have been around for a while – But they have generally been used to present information to students in a linear fashion – Interactive elements are limited – And not much room for ‘open’, student-led activities
  31. 31. Generative learning objects http://makingdigitalhistory.co.uk/resources/learning-design/generative-learningobjects-glos/
  32. 32. Xerte • Online editor (not based on specific PC/ laptop) in which users manipulate content – – – – – Text Images Video, audio Questions and activities From other online sources (e.g. YouTube, GoogleMaps) • Many different page types, levels of activity and presentation • Possibility of collaborating (sharing, reviewing) • Publishes online and generates code to enable embedding – More information: http://www.xerte.org.uk/index.php?lang=en
  33. 33. Context • Student as Producer – Underpins T&L strategy at Lincoln • http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/ • Digital Literacies in the Disciplines – Higher Education Academy – Student as Partner approach – Mandatory use of Xerte toolkit • http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/learnin gandtech/ELT-DLinD-SP
  34. 34. Making Digital History: students as partners in online learning, teaching and research • Students learn by making Xerte learning objects that instruct others about historical topics • Based on independent research (group and individual) • Replaces ‘traditional’ element of assessment • Assessment criteria stress historical skills/ knowledge, not ‘bells and whistles’ • Adds variety + develops skills, esp. digital literacy • Thinking about form of presentation/ audience/ register • Summarising and explaining learning For more see: http://makingdigitalhistory.co.uk
  35. 35. 5 modules • Y1, Y2, MA – East meets West: primary source report – Representing the Past: student research questions inform museum visit or analysis of a film – Urban Life in Middle Ages: student defined topic/question on a primary source – Gender in 19th century Britain: primary source analysis – MA Research Methods (Medieval Studies): reflection on previous research project
  36. 36. An example • Friendship: Medieval Perspectives • For more examples (student work coming soon…!), see: • http://makingdigitalhistory.co.uk/resources/learningdesign/xerte-gallery/
  37. 37. Concluding thoughts • VLEs support learning and are viewed positively • But remaining gaps may be addressed by thinking more about online pedagogies and technologies – Active online learning and user-generated content • Not about replacing the classroom, but about augmenting it – Also, develops useful skills and knowledge that are NOT necessarily opposed to developing historical skills and understanding – …and it’s fun…
  38. 38. More about me • http://staff.lincoln.ac.uk/jwood (homepage at Lincoln) • http://ulincoln.academia.edu/JamieWood (L&T and other presentations/ papers) • jwood@lincoln.ac.uk (email)
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