SU L& T Conference June 2009 Final


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Presentation on the use of a ning social network to support online learners

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  • SU L& T Conference June 2009 Final

    2. 2. Supporting the Online Learner 1 <ul><li>Online awards delivered by S.U. Faculty of Health </li></ul><ul><li>Sport & Exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Masters of Public Health </li></ul><ul><li>MSc Physical Activity & Public Health </li></ul><ul><li>MSc Applied Sport Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>MSc Sport Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>MSc Applied Sport & Exercise Science </li></ul><ul><li>Social Work & Advice Studies </li></ul><ul><li>BA in Advice Studies </li></ul>
    3. 3. Supporting the Online Learner 1 <ul><li>Bring 2 issues together.... </li></ul><ul><li>Issue 1 Retention of Online learners </li></ul><ul><li>Limited but growing body of literature that has found completion rates on online courses lower than traditional face to face delivery – attrition rates 10-20% higher than face to face delivery (see Diaz, 2002, Tyler-Smith 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Issue 2 The Rise of Social Networks </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Social Networking’ is the unqualified success story of Web 2.0 developments.. </li></ul><ul><li>Can the latter support the former? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Issue 1: Retention of Online Learners <ul><li>Gibson (1998) suggested 3 factors explaining and predicting online attrition and these were labelled: </li></ul><ul><li>Student Factors e.g. educational preparation, motivational and persistence attributes, student and academic self concept </li></ul><ul><li>Situational Factors e.g. family and employer support, changes in life circumstances </li></ul><ul><li>Educational System Factors e.g. quality and difficulty of instructional materials, tutor support </li></ul><ul><li>Can a Social Network impact positively on some of these factors? </li></ul>
    5. 5. Issue 1 Retention of Online Learners <ul><li>Faculty use of Bb in our online awards is focussed at modular level and thus does not </li></ul><ul><li>(a) facilitate a sense of identity in students beyond the </li></ul><ul><li>modular level or ... </li></ul><ul><li>(b) contribute to the development of an online learning ‘community of practice’ </li></ul><ul><li>Social networking offers the potential of overcoming these restrictions by allowing students on an identified online award to interact with each other simply and easily, share and learn from each other and develop a ‘sense of belonging/community’ to an award. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Developing a Community of Practice into <ul><li>Rovai (2002, p.12) states that with respect to online learning </li></ul><ul><li>“ those students who possess strong feelings of community are more likely to persist than those students who feel alienated and alone.” </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Communities of Practice’ are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger 2007) </li></ul>
    7. 7. Issue 2: The Rise of Social Networks <ul><li>Social network software allows individuals to.. </li></ul><ul><li>construct a profile (type oneself into being)… </li></ul><ul><li>connect with others who share similar interests… </li></ul><ul><li>view and offer up content to support and further build the social network/community to which they belong </li></ul>
    8. 8. Issue 2: The Rise of Social Networks <ul><li>Facebook: 200 million active users- 40 languages, 180 countries, if it was a country – 8 th most populated in the world </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace: 175 million active users, 50 million paying subscription </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: 758% growth in 2008, 4.53 million users, 5-7000 accounts opened every day </li></ul><ul><li>Bebo: 40 million registered users </li></ul><ul><li>Ning: 1 million social network sites (1/5 th active) increasing at rate of 3000 per day. 22 million registered users (6.1. million active). </li></ul>
    9. 9. Social Networks and Online learners Potential Benefits of a Social Network to Online Learners Overcome sense of isolation Provide a more informal ‘social’ means of communication between students Allow students in the ‘same boat ‘to get to know one another better Develop a greater sense of community of practice Allow like minded students to form groups Encourage staff –student interaction outside the more formal academic setting
    10. 10. Project Details <ul><li>Our ongoing project is examining whether social networking software is a tool that should be considered by online awards at Staffordshire University as a part of the retention “mix” that is offered to our online students </li></ul><ul><li>Two specific questions are being examined: </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Will the reported student experience of a social network differ between a Ug. Online award (B.A. Advice Studies) and Pg. online award (MSc. Applied Sport & Exercise Science)? </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Will engagement with a Social Network “site” influence and impact on reported student commitment and motivation to their award? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Why Select Ning? <ul><li> allows you to create your own social network around a specific topic without having to join the larger networks. </li></ul><ul><li>Ning groups can be ‘open’ or ‘invitation-only’ </li></ul><ul><li>It is a simple, free (with some adware) or for a charge (with no adware) piece of software that anyone can easily use to establish a community of individuals who have a ‘common bond’ </li></ul><ul><li>About 30 minutes of work to set up basic site </li></ul>
    12. 12. Advice Studies/Sport & Ex Sci & Ning! <ul><li>Applied Sport & Exercise Science Ning Network went ‘live’ in April 2009 </li></ul><ul><li> - currently approx. 25 students on this ning </li></ul><ul><li>Advice Studies Support Ning Network went ‘live’ in September 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>- students given demo of Ning at induction and a </li></ul><ul><li>reminder at start of each online module </li></ul><ul><li>- currently approx. 75 students on this Ning </li></ul><ul><li>Lets have a look....... </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>Advice Studies Ning more established - </li></ul><ul><li>Personalisation of space (Cleeland) </li></ul><ul><li>Informal social communication (Hutton) </li></ul><ul><li>Formal staff to student communication ( News) </li></ul><ul><li>Student to student support (All Discussions) </li></ul><ul><li>Staff to student support (Discussions) </li></ul><ul><li>Development of practice community (Overview) </li></ul><ul><li>Special interest group formation (Groups) </li></ul><ul><li>Staff / student – Student student interaction outside network (email) </li></ul>Examples of Ning Activity 1
    14. 14. Examples of Ning Activity 2 <ul><li>It also allows students to </li></ul><ul><li>create individual Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>share of photos </li></ul><ul><li>The sharing of videos </li></ul><ul><li>Informal chat </li></ul>
    15. 15. Emerging Themes: Advice Studies <ul><li>Advice Studies Network in operation for 6 months. </li></ul><ul><li>Friendships are being formed </li></ul><ul><li>Similar challenges are being identified by students </li></ul><ul><li>Mutual support and encouragement amongst students is taking place. </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing of concerns/worries/successes are taking place </li></ul>
    16. 16. What do members think? <ul><li>Advice Studies: Quote 1 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think this site has been really useful. Firstly, to get to know fellow students and make friendships. Secondly for the support you can get whilst studying and to share ideas and advice. I personally have found it invaluable” </li></ul>
    17. 17. What do members think? <ul><li>Advice Studies: Quote 2 </li></ul><ul><li>“ No one needs to feel &quot;on their own&quot; anymore, even if the other students aren't doing your modules, there will be someone who knows what it is like to endlessly read and reread your essay and wonder if you should have put this or that in!” </li></ul>
    18. 18. What do members think? <ul><li>Advice Studies: Quote 3 </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is like a side dish to the award ! What I mean to say is that in line with the degree, its a great source of communication both with the module award leader, the administration staff, fellow students and tutors. The site is very useful when sharing thoughts, ideas, and personally, has helped me gain more confidence in terms of voicing my views in general. Ning has helped me in establishing new friendships and to get to know fellow students from different backgrounds” </li></ul>
    19. 19. What do members think? <ul><li>Sport & Exercise Science: Quote 1 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Distance learning is great but it definitely has its drawbacks, and that is mainly the social aspect of studying together. I still meet my old university mates here in Malta and we still consider each other best friends…. ….. I barely know anyone of my fellow students at Staffordshire and that is a pity because I believe that getting to know new people especially from different countries is very important. I hope that this network will give us the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better” </li></ul>
    20. 20. What do members think? <ul><li>Sport & Exercise Science: Quote 2 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I look forward to chatting to you all - if I have time! I may be wrong but I think some people find Blackboard a little daunting. This site creates a less formal environment and may help people share their thoughts more comfortably. Just a thought!” </li></ul>
    21. 21. Project Evaluation <ul><li>Both Ning sites will be evaluated in July 2009 using Qualtrics questionnaire software </li></ul><ul><li>Mix of quantitative and qualitative questions examining the impact of each Ning site on… </li></ul><ul><li>(a) students feelings of commitment to their online award and </li></ul><ul><li>(b) students sense of an emerging ‘community of practice’ </li></ul>
    22. 22. Emerging (Informal) Evidence Potential Benefits of a Social Network to online learners Level of Support emerging for the 2 NING sites Overcome sense of isolation Provide a more informal ‘social’ means of communication between students Allow students in the ‘same boat ‘to get to know one another better Develop a greater sense of community of practice Allow like minded students to form groups Encourage staff –student interaction outside the more formal academic setting
    23. 23. Finally…. <ul><li>In the next 2 days have a go at setting up your own Ning site! </li></ul>
    24. 24. Setting up a Ning Site – as easy as.. <ul><li>Go to </li></ul><ul><li>Click on ‘Create your Own Social Network” </li></ul><ul><li>Give you ning site a name </li></ul><ul><li>Select a web address ******* </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a template (or create your own design) for the look of the site </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. select background banner, select colour of background, colour and form of text etc etc </li></ul><ul><li>Select what page formats you want (photos, videos, forum, groups, blogs, discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Position these elements on the page via drag and drop feature </li></ul><ul><li>Create and add content to your own page </li></ul><ul><li>Add some content for others to view and…Invite members to join!! </li></ul><ul><li>JP </li></ul>
    25. 25. Reference List <ul><li>Diaz, D.P. (2002) Online drop rates revisited. The Technology Source [online] [Accessed 22/03/09] </li></ul><ul><li>Gibson, C.C. (1998). The distance learner’s academic self-concept. In C. Gibson (Ed.), Distance learners in higher education: Institutional responses for quality outcomes. Madison, WI: Atwood. </li></ul><ul><li>Tyler-Smith, K. (2007) Early Attrition among first time eLearners: A review of factors that contribute to drop out, withdrawal and non completion rates of adult learners undertaking eLearning programmes. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 12, No 2. [Accessed 22/03/09]. </li></ul><ul><li>Wenger, E. (c 2007) 'Communities of practice. A brief introduction'. Communities of practice [ http:// /theory/ . Accessed 22/03/09, 2009]. </li></ul><ul><li>JP </li></ul>