Online interaction: reaping the benefits, avoiding the pitfalls Region 9 Newcastle, ALs meeting at The Sage, Gateshead Pro...
‘ It feels much more like – how can I put it – more like genuine teaching if you see what I mean. I have a lot more contac...
May 06 eDesktop replaced by Moodle – 37 courses in May, then new presentations as they start Basic Moodle calendars Improv...
What I hope the VLE will enable us to do
What I hope the VLE will enable us to do <ul><li>Support a rich range of pedagogies </li></ul><ul><li>Streamline & persona...
The key goal – improving student learning <ul><li>The VLE tools often seen as enabling more interactive and more social fo...
Interaction intrinsic to learning <ul><li>Laurillard puts interaction at the heart of conversational theory of teaching & ...
Emphasis on interpersonal interaction <ul><li>Dominates the research on online teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Seen as key to s...
Why is online interpersonal interaction so valued?  <ul><li>Seen as a new medium for creating learning dialogues between l...
The challenge <ul><li>Low levels of participation a persistent problem </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge construction fails to d...
U316 – The Environmental Web Web-based course, up to 50% of study is  online Study led by around 10 online activities per ...
The Environmental Web: Context <ul><li>Four main themes – governance, uncertainty, globalization and sustainability –  int...
U316: key features <ul><li>A web-based course at level 3: core to BSc Environmental Studies </li></ul><ul><li>High retenti...
Tutors were able to compare U316 conferencing favourably with other courses they’d tutored <ul><li>Tutor: </li></ul><ul><l...
Engagement: Authentic tasks  Biodiversity data collection activity <ul><li>Use detailed field notes on a sample of birds, ...
 
<ul><li>tutor </li></ul>The fact that it reflects what is happening today…It makes it something completely different…from ...
Participation: design the organisation, the task & the environment/resources <ul><li>Course team commitment – no compromis...
Research your  Island’s data Using websites Complete  Short report on your island & upload to the group conference  Role p...
Intellectual tasks required to achieve understanding through interaction <ul><li>Describe </li></ul><ul><li>Explain </li><...
Research & Evaluate  data On your island Articulate  your island’s  Vulnerabilities & set out some Claims to UN Discuss an...
Task and roles enabled interaction  without knowing other students <ul><li>Interviewer: So did you find it difficult to co...
Interaction promoted reasoned  discussion & argument <ul><li>Interviewer: did you find it possible to disagree? </li></ul>...
Student: (we used a)…spread sheet to see what kind of opinions were coming forward, and it was quite clear that three issu...
<ul><li>Student:…from what I’ve heard on the conferencing and the website in general, people put different opinions on and...
Social presence increases through online interaction <ul><li>student </li></ul>It’s a lot better because you feel a  bit m...
Key features of the learning design and its effects <ul><li>Combination of individual  content  interaction followed by on...
BUT… <ul><li>Time spent studying – 54% say ‘a lot more than expected’ (higher than usual) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of choice...
Student perceptions  (1) Enjoying the course…finding it a very heavy workload but find the biggest drawback is not being a...
Student perceptions   (2) <ul><ul><li>Whilst thoroughly enjoying the content  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>of this course, I...
What evidence for good practice success?  (1) 76.5% 77.3% 76.4% Social Science average for all level 3 courses 66.5% 68.5%...
Evidence: Student learning outcomes <ul><li>Student response on the Course Experience Questionnaire shows above average ac...
Tutor perspective – interview comments <ul><li>Definitely interactive – probably the most interactive course I’ve come acr...
Support: keeping learners studying <ul><li>tutor </li></ul>Without question the computer conferencing aspect of the course...
Support  (2) <ul><li>tutor </li></ul>Email makes a huge difference to the speed you can communicate without being intrusiv...
Learning design knowledge – from theory,  best practice, & designs <ul><li>Derived from theories of learning and instructi...
 
Learning design notation of the activity
 
 
Associated papers
May 06 eDesktop replaced by Moodle – 37 courses in May, then new presentations as they start Basic Moodle calendars Improv...
What evidence for good practice success?  (2) 8 3.7 3.9 This course really tried to get the best out of all students 11 3....
Design does not guarantee outcome <ul><li>Design specifies the context, the learner works within a setting specific to the...
Good Content – reusable, versionable <ul><li>Learning objects – content that is digitally created and stored, portable and...
‘ It’s the context stupid’  (Saffo, 1994) <ul><li>‘ A grab-bag of unrelated stuff’ - Wiley, (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>You n...
Academic attitudes <ul><li>OU academics tend to reuse/version the material produced by themselves and departmental colleag...
If…then… <ul><li>If you understand why my best practice works, then you might be able to learn from it & apply that learni...
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Abergavenny Staff Tutors March07

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presentation delivered to staff tutors in FELS at their conference in Abergavenny march 2007

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  • Abergavenny Staff Tutors March07

    1. 1. Online interaction: reaping the benefits, avoiding the pitfalls Region 9 Newcastle, ALs meeting at The Sage, Gateshead Professor Mary Thorpe The Institute of Educational Technology
    2. 2. ‘ It feels much more like – how can I put it – more like genuine teaching if you see what I mean. I have a lot more contact with students…the level of interaction is much higher, much more enjoyable. Certainly the students say that to me and I find it much more enjoyable’ U316 tutor
    3. 3. May 06 eDesktop replaced by Moodle – 37 courses in May, then new presentations as they start Basic Moodle calendars Improved FirstClass Web Interface (Optional alongside current web interface) Feb 07 (v1.0) Library resources integrated into Moodle based course materials Enhanced asynchronous conferencing + blogs and wikis Basic eAssessment tools in Moodle + enhanced OpenMark functionality integrated Basic ePortfolio tools: personal repository, reflective writing etc Tracking and reporting of student activity Further improvements to audio & synchronous collaboration tools Enhanced ePortfolio tools and system Learning Design – support for development and sequencing of online activities Oct 06 OUBS course websites move to Moodle platform Further improvements to eAssessment tools + automated marking of short answers Support for Mobile Learners Provision of Integrated Online Experience – phased integration of learning and admin online interfaces Enhanced audio & synchronous collaboration tools Federated Search tools Further improvements to asynchronous conferencing + blogs and wikis Feb 08 (v2.0) Enhanced calendars Little visible difference to users – Initial Moodle implementation to replace current functionality only But also: Initial limited implementation of Moodle
    4. 4. What I hope the VLE will enable us to do
    5. 5. What I hope the VLE will enable us to do <ul><li>Support a rich range of pedagogies </li></ul><ul><li>Streamline & personalise the student experience </li></ul><ul><li>Improve student support and retention </li></ul><ul><li>Promote uptake of elearning by course teams </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate collaboration with partners </li></ul>
    6. 6. The key goal – improving student learning <ul><li>The VLE tools often seen as enabling more interactive and more social forms of learning </li></ul><ul><li>Why would this/could this improve learning? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Interaction intrinsic to learning <ul><li>Laurillard puts interaction at the heart of conversational theory of teaching & learning </li></ul><ul><li>Moore (1989): 3 kinds of interaction in DE: learner-content, learner-instructor, learner-learner; learner-interface added (Hillman 1994) </li></ul>‘ There is no escape from the need for dialogue’ p85 Interaction = dialogue therefore reduced transactional distance
    8. 8. Emphasis on interpersonal interaction <ul><li>Dominates the research on online teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Seen as key to successful use of ICT </li></ul>We want the current dominant focus on information rich resources to shift towards greater attention to the processes which support interaction & dialogue ESRC seminar series manifesto, 2002
    9. 9. Why is online interpersonal interaction so valued? <ul><li>Seen as a new medium for creating learning dialogues between lecturer and students </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for online collaborative learning that delivers knowledge construction by students </li></ul><ul><li>Means through which students learn valued skills, notably argumentation and team work </li></ul><ul><li>Engages students in processes key to deep learning – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explanation, self-explanation, reflection, analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vicarious learning possibilities – students ‘over hear’ valuable learning dialogues, learn from peer learning </li></ul><ul><li>High social presence feeds into positive emotional support, reduces sense of isolation </li></ul>
    10. 10. The challenge <ul><li>Low levels of participation a persistent problem </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge construction fails to develop much beyond ‘sharing experience’ </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue quality may sacrifice dissonance for social harmony/superficial consensus </li></ul><ul><li>Argumentation may be undermined by poor use of evidence, weak skills in shared problem analysis and so on </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of the interaction can be dependent on the skills of the tutor or facilitator – these variable </li></ul>
    11. 11. U316 – The Environmental Web Web-based course, up to 50% of study is online Study led by around 10 online activities per block/4 blocks Students alternate between independent study of online activities, using external websites, CDROM resources & tools, and interaction with peers, using asynchronous conferencing, which is assessed; they attend one day school Course is skills focused and students learn how to debate online, use climate modelling tools, write environmental web-journalism, complete a project, and submit assignments as web pages
    12. 12. The Environmental Web: Context <ul><li>Four main themes – governance, uncertainty, globalization and sustainability – inter-disciplinary teaching approach </li></ul><ul><li>Pedagogy of active involvement and participation delivered through a variety of forms of interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Research explored how students and tutors perceived what the course delivers, from their perspectives </li></ul>‘ Our overall aim is to provide you with the skills needed to develop your own environmental literacy and to take part in informed environmental debate and action, rather than to expand your environmental knowledge as such.’ Course Chair, introduction
    13. 13. U316: key features <ul><li>A web-based course at level 3: core to BSc Environmental Studies </li></ul><ul><li>High retention and credit achievement </li></ul><ul><li>Study led by online activities with feedback and activities used to drive the conferencing </li></ul><ul><li>All activities, including conferencing, have specific learning outcomes and time estimates are given </li></ul><ul><li>Conferencing is highly structured and integrated into the learning outcomes and the assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration is not dependent on tutor skill – though tutors retain their usual high importance (& seem to log on daily) </li></ul><ul><li>Participation is both mandatory – and, tutors say, enjoyed by students; no compromise or optionality </li></ul><ul><li>Tutors ensure all students online by week 1 </li></ul>
    14. 14. Tutors were able to compare U316 conferencing favourably with other courses they’d tutored <ul><li>Tutor: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ </li></ul>‘ can I just make a point about activities…the difference between T210, S103 and U316…with U316 there are all these structured online tutor group conference activities…We’re given guidelines…but with other courses we’re not given that. It’s very much up to individual tutors to get students to try and participate…In a kind of responsive way really …that’s the difference with U316. It’s got these structured activities that hold students there and give them a reason for being there.’
    15. 15. Engagement: Authentic tasks Biodiversity data collection activity <ul><li>Use detailed field notes on a sample of birds, dragonflies and woodlice Students observe their area, noting what species they find </li></ul><ul><li>Complete field notes and upload to the U316 Biodiversity database </li></ul><ul><li>This creates a geographically referenced map of all the students’ data, enabling students to see where there are species ‘hot spots’ and to work out what might be good strategies for nature reserves </li></ul><ul><li>Submit an assignment based on this activity, for credit </li></ul><ul><li>The OU data is submitted to the national biodiversity database and so adds to ‘real’ knowledge </li></ul>
    16. 17. <ul><li>tutor </li></ul>The fact that it reflects what is happening today…It makes it something completely different…from a lot of science courses…it’s very alive… The sort of study…where they count woodlice and things like that…they feel most of them very much part of a bigger whole.. It’s all very immediate, it’s real research, it’s actually useful for the scientific community and there are people all over the country feeding into this and …for many of them it captures their imagination – although they do complain a bit about sitting outside and not finding any dragonflies for example.
    17. 18. Participation: design the organisation, the task & the environment/resources <ul><li>Course team commitment – no compromise on conferencing - and tutor support. Tutors contact all students by phone/correspondence to make sure they’re online from week 1 . </li></ul><ul><li>Conferencing is structured – there is a phased design for the activities and tasks are clearly specified, integrating individual & group learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment includes the work done in online conferencing groups, and is graded. </li></ul>
    18. 19. Research your Island’s data Using websites Complete Short report on your island & upload to the group conference Role play meeting of AOSIS, Representing your Island’s needs For environmental protection Group decides on a set of demands from AOSIS to the UN Assignment - Student Reports on Role play & uses data on their island To support the consensus reached 35% marks Blue= individual Green= report to group cream= group work AOSIS conference activity
    19. 20. Intellectual tasks required to achieve understanding through interaction <ul><li>Describe </li></ul><ul><li>Explain </li></ul><ul><li>Find out/search/research </li></ul><ul><li>Reason/justify </li></ul><ul><li>Predict </li></ul><ul><li>Argue/debate </li></ul><ul><li>Critique/evaluate </li></ul><ul><li>Define </li></ul><ul><li>Calculate </li></ul><ul><li>Articulate </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect </li></ul>
    20. 21. Research & Evaluate data On your island Articulate your island’s Vulnerabilities & set out some Claims to UN Discuss and evaluate Draft UN proposals; Articulate the needs of your island in debate Argue for & agree on a set of demands from AOSIS to the UN Explain your Demands, justify them, Explain how you Reached a Consensus & Reflect on your role 35% marks Blue= individual Green= report to group cream= group work
    21. 22. Task and roles enabled interaction without knowing other students <ul><li>Interviewer: So did you find it difficult to contribute…because you hadn’t met these people first? </li></ul><ul><li>Student: No no not at all. Because in there we had an aim, we had a target so I didn’t mind at all that I did not know the fellow students. We just exchanged views... </li></ul>
    22. 23. Interaction promoted reasoned discussion & argument <ul><li>Interviewer: did you find it possible to disagree? </li></ul><ul><li>Student: Oh very much so – people did disagree a lot and managed to put forward their points of view a lot, which I really liked, and backed it up with examples…most people’s decisions were informed and you could see that. </li></ul>
    23. 24. Student: (we used a)…spread sheet to see what kind of opinions were coming forward, and it was quite clear that three issues were coming forward from most people, so you…thought …if you weren’t in that consensus you would be in a minority and probably you’d have more sway if you felt able to join the majority…on most of the issues I could but there was one or two issues where I said no there’s no way I’m going to compromise on that…I was Haiti, so I was very poor…there was a lot of wealthy islands, so some people didn’t have the issues that Haiti did so there was some things that I just couldn’t compromise on. Interaction promoted reasoned discussion & argument (2)
    24. 25. <ul><li>Student:…from what I’ve heard on the conferencing and the website in general, people put different opinions on and it’s been discussed by quite a few members of the group and people have either changed their minds ‘cos they’ve seen an argument from a different perspective, or they’ve said no I still think the same thing. </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewer: Did that happen in your group? </li></ul><ul><li>Student:…it did to some extent. We had a discussion about tourism…and that was one of the points that we’d agreed on the Sunday and then after some more of the comments the following week it was changed to not stopping tourism at all but going for eco-tourism and going for high taxes on air flights…so that opened up a separate debate in that area and that was one of the things that we altered the opinion on. </li></ul>Students provide evidence for views, Change their views through debate
    25. 26. Social presence increases through online interaction <ul><li>student </li></ul>It’s a lot better because you feel a bit more supported…you put your mails on the website and get your replies and you start talking to people and you do build up some sort of rapport with them, and so far its quite enjoyable and not as difficult as I was expecting it to be. I thought it was going to be a bit impersonal and its not like that at all.
    26. 27. Key features of the learning design and its effects <ul><li>Combination of individual content interaction followed by online group debate – not purely discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Identification with a Small Island State crucial to quality of engagement and willingness to disagree – differences of view used constructively </li></ul><ul><li>Well structured activity, tied in closely to assessment, ensured participation at some level by all students, without prior meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of interaction NOT driven by tutor skills – course team ask not to moderate actively – but tutors still important </li></ul><ul><li>Course team do not compromise on CMC – tied in to the design of the course and learning outcomes </li></ul>
    27. 28. BUT… <ul><li>Time spent studying – 54% say ‘a lot more than expected’ (higher than usual) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of choice over how to study – and impact of increased deadlines – difficult for some students </li></ul>
    28. 29. Student perceptions (1) Enjoying the course…finding it a very heavy workload but find the biggest drawback is not being able to tailor my studies to fit in with other ‘life events’ – so many deadlines/conference etc to meet all the time adds quite a bit of pressure
    29. 30. Student perceptions (2) <ul><ul><li>Whilst thoroughly enjoying the content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>of this course, I find the restrictive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>timetable quite stressful. Conferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>within specific dates, data collection all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>go against the flexible ethos of OU </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>study. </li></ul></ul>While I like (the course) in general I find the workload overwhelming and having to do specific tasks at specified times can get in the way of trying to get ahead
    30. 31. What evidence for good practice success? (1) 76.5% 77.3% 76.4% Social Science average for all level 3 courses 66.5% 68.5% 69.2% Science Faculty average for all level 3 courses 77.6% 74.0% 78.6% The Environmental Web 2005 2004 2003 Rates of completion (base = all students at HEFCE return)
    31. 32. Evidence: Student learning outcomes <ul><li>Student response on the Course Experience Questionnaire shows above average achievement on generic skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helped me develop problem solving skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helped my ability to work as a team member </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharpened my analytic skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More confident about tackling unfamiliar problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helped me develop ability to plan my own work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… and appropriate assessment: strong disagreement with </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This course was more to do with testing memory than understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To do well on this course all you need is a good memory </li></ul></ul>
    32. 33. Tutor perspective – interview comments <ul><li>Definitely interactive – probably the most interactive course I’ve come across </li></ul><ul><li>Creates a buzz – comparable to face to face </li></ul><ul><li>Works better than other courses: gets all students conferencing </li></ul><ul><li>Students enjoy it – even if they’re compelled to participate </li></ul><ul><li>Students don’t feel alone; gives a role to student experts to help other students </li></ul><ul><li>Students definitely better supported than a conventional ODE course </li></ul>
    33. 34. Support: keeping learners studying <ul><li>tutor </li></ul>Without question the computer conferencing aspect of the course offers so much support both at a national and tutor group level…the overwhelming feedback from that…was that it had been a huge help. And the students are very supportive of each other…so I think from the support point of view it’s unparalleled really. I spend more time with my online students than I do with my conventional students.
    34. 35. Support (2) <ul><li>tutor </li></ul>Email makes a huge difference to the speed you can communicate without being intrusive because you don’t want to ring people up all the time…it’s a lot quicker for me too I think they’re more effectively supported because I’m checking the conferences and my email everyday…they could get day to day support on the course.
    35. 36. Learning design knowledge – from theory, best practice, & designs <ul><li>Derived from theories of learning and instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Identify best practice examples of teaching and learning </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the design of the learning activities embedded within best practice examples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>learning designs are more generic than </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the teaching episode/unit, & </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can be used/adapted elsewhere (Koper & Tattersall, 2005) </li></ul></ul>
    36. 38. Learning design notation of the activity
    37. 41. Associated papers
    38. 42. May 06 eDesktop replaced by Moodle – 37 courses in May, then new presentations as they start Basic Moodle calendars Improved FirstClass Web Interface (Optional alongside current web interface) Feb 07 (v1.0) Library resources integrated into Moodle based course materials Enhanced asynchronous conferencing + blogs and wikis Basic eAssessment tools in Moodle + enhanced OpenMark functionality integrated Basic ePortfolio tools: personal repository, reflective writing etc Tracking and reporting of student activity Further improvements to audio & synchronous collaboration tools Enhanced ePortfolio tools and system Learning Design – support for development and sequencing of online activities Oct 06 OUBS course websites move to Moodle platform Further improvements to eAssessment tools + automated marking of short answers Support for Mobile Learners Provision of Integrated Online Experience – phased integration of learning and admin online interfaces Enhanced audio & synchronous collaboration tools Federated Search tools Further improvements to asynchronous conferencing + blogs and wikis Feb 08 (v2.0) Enhanced calendars Little visible difference to users – Initial Moodle implementation to replace current functionality only But also: Initial limited implementation of Moodle
    39. 43. What evidence for good practice success? (2) 8 3.7 3.9 This course really tried to get the best out of all students 11 3.6 3.6 Helped me to develop the ability to plan my own work 2 1.9 1.4 The course was more to do with testing memory than understanding 8 3.3 3.6 More confident about tackling unfamiliar problems 1 1.9 1.5 To do well on this course all you need is a good memory 13 3.8 3.8 Has sharpened my analytic skills 4 2.1 3.4 Helped my ability to work as a team members 6 3.6 3.8 Helped me develop problem solving skills Rank: 1 = best Median score (36 courses) Score: The Environmental Web Course Experience Questionnaire items
    40. 44. Design does not guarantee outcome <ul><li>Design specifies the context, the learner works within a setting specific to them </li></ul><ul><li>Design specifies the task; the learner carries out an activity as they see fit </li></ul><ul><li>Design specifies the organisation; the learner chooses whom to work with, whether to collaborate, build a community, etc </li></ul>But we can reuse and improve designs & we can reuse and version content
    41. 45. Good Content – reusable, versionable <ul><li>Learning objects – content that is digitally created and stored, portable and easily reusable </li></ul><ul><li>‘Grain size’ varies - chunks of content should be free standing – not integrated with other material </li></ul><ul><li>Debate continues over how much teaching can be included in a learning object; depends on ‘grain size’ </li></ul>
    42. 46. ‘ It’s the context stupid’ (Saffo, 1994) <ul><li>‘ A grab-bag of unrelated stuff’ - Wiley, (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>You need mortar as well as bricks – if you’re going to build understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Learning objects need a context and narrative for learners to make effective use of them </li></ul><ul><li>OU reuses material extensively and has good reason to make versioning and reuse easier – for annual updating, for repurposing materials and finding new markets </li></ul><ul><li>Moving ahead with structured authoring and a new content management system </li></ul>
    43. 47. Academic attitudes <ul><li>OU academics tend to reuse/version the material produced by themselves and departmental colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>This is because they see opportunities where material they know well might be usefully developed for new learners/new purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Research with Cambridge and MIT showed similar picture </li></ul><ul><li>77 respondents to an online survey of teachers of CMI(masters) classes: 92% report some sharing within own organisation; three quarters were less willing to share with others – even CMI colleagues </li></ul>
    44. 48. If…then… <ul><li>If you understand why my best practice works, then you might be able to learn from it & apply that learning to your own designs for learning </li></ul><ul><li>If you see the design of teaching and learning activity in my example, you may be able to adapt it </li></ul><ul><li>If your context matches mine, then you might be able to apply my best practice to your own teaching context </li></ul>Context: university study, Environmental Studies Named degree, level 3 course, 60 points, distance teaching, adult learners, networked learning,

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