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Design of Technology Enhanced Learning and Assessment of an Online Course for the Final Year Undergraduates

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Design of Technology Enhanced Learning and Assessment of an Online Course for the Final Year Undergraduates

S. H. D. Senanayake, K. P. Hewagamage

1st International Workshop on Technology-Enhanced Assessment, Analytics and Feedback (TEAAF2014)

Published in: Education
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Design of Technology Enhanced Learning and Assessment of an Online Course for the Final Year Undergraduates

  1. 1. Design of Technology Enhanced Learning and Assessment of an Online Course for the Final Year Undergraduates S. H. D. Senanayake #1 , K. P. Hewagamage #2 # University of Colombo School of Computing Colombo 07 Sri Lanka shd@ucsc.cmb.ac.lk kph@ucsc.cmb.ac.lk HE university education system is a type of tertiary education which is now mainly focused on student- centered learning and moving away from the teacher- centered learning slowly. University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) is a higher educational institute associated with University of Colombo in Sri Lanka offering undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in Computer Science and Information Systems. This study is conducted considering final year students who are following a course called Contemporary Topics in Information Systems in the Information Systems degree programme. In the faculty, most of courses are still being conducted through face-to-face (f2f) teaching environment and it is backed by the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) of the faculty at http://ugvle.ucsc.cmb.ac.lk which is an online collaborative teaching and learning platform that enhances e-learning by providing the virtual access to the course contents, assignments, university news forum, other resources, etc. created using the Learning Management System known as Moodle. In the curriculum development of the degree program, it was discussed to promote the lifelong learning among final year students and minimize the f2f interaction to promote the self and peer learning activities as much as possible in all courses. At the same time, to introduce some online courses to promote peer-to-peer learning interaction through online learning environment. This paper is based on a course which was introduced on this latter requirement, and it is completely different from other courses in the program. Simply, there is no f2f interaction or teaching in the course and students were asked to participate online discussions based on the topics in the course. When evaluating the students in the course, both online ratings and their participation of activities are considered to decide the grade. The rest of this abstract will briefly describe the design of learning and assessment of the course carried out through VLE of the faculty. Finally a basic analysis is carried out based on the forum participation throughout the academic year. The selected course is conducted as a fully online course, which enhances the awareness among the final year students on current technologies, trends and hot topics. Although the course is conducted online, the assessment is accompanied in a blended environment since the students have to take part in peer discussions at the end of the course as well as online discussions. The main objective of this course is to practice the students to search the information from electronic media such as e-books, research papers, online articles and reports, or offline media such as newspapers, textbooks, etc. by themselves on the relevant topics and share the knowledge among peers through the discussion forums which enhances the student-centered learning. At the end of the year the students are evaluated and graded according to the effort they have made in the course as the final assessment. Fig. 1. A discussion forum in the Virtual Learning Environment T
  2. 2. Fig. 2. Forum participation of the students throughout the academic year In this course the student interaction is happened through online discussion forums. The course is running through the whole academic year and there are ten topics in different areas to be discussed by the students. At the beginning of the week, the teacher announces a topic and the topic is going through two week period of time. During the first week, each student is required to start two discussions by posting an issue or any other finding relevant to the announced topic before the deadline. During the second week, they have to participate in a discussion as a thread based on the postings that they have created within the first week by replying with constructive comments as much as possible. Fig. 1 shows an interface of the VLE with the postings and the replies that the students have involved regarding one discussion topic. Also, the students can rate the posts with a scale of 1-10 according to their estimation about the ideas and the quality of the posting. At the end of the year each student has to publish a magazine article individually and a poster as a group based on a selected discussion topic. The assessment and the evaluation criteria of the course has been divided into three categories: 60% is given for the continuous forum participation, 20% is given for the magazine article and the other 20% is given for the poster. Therefore the course evaluation is based on 80% online activities and 20% blended activities. The requirements for obtaining the relevant percentage for the postings are, that the postings should be relevant, valid and interesting. Also they can use images, audios and videos to explain the posting. At the end of the posting they have to cite the work properly by giving the references. The average of the student rating is calculated for the final marks and the teacher also rate the student’s work based on the given criteria. The magazine articles are evaluated by the teacher and the posters are available for the public community such as other lecturers and the students to evaluate. Since this course is a compulsory for all fourth year undergraduates, the sample size of the selected user group is twenty students. By analyzing the quality of the postings and replies, it is highlighted that the students are gradually improving when engaging the discussion forums continuously. It seems that the searching interest and the ability of continuing and feeding a discussion is increased as well. When considering the forum participation and the replies to all the ten topics, Fig. 2 gives some valuable results. According to Fig. 2, it shows that the students’ involvement is low at the beginning of the course. This might happen due to the unawareness of the flow of the course or this might be the first fully online course they have involved without the instructions of a physical teacher. But when they are getting used to it, they do reply with more constructive and interesting manner. However the graph shows that, at the end again the student involvement decreases. One of the key reasons behind the graph declining may be the high workload on the students during the semester examinations and the other academic work. Due to that, they might fail to manage the time to involve with this online course as earlier. Also when considering the variation of the quantity of postings and replies made by the students, the involvement for some topics such as ‘Brain Computing for Mental Health’, ‘Use of ICT in Automobile Industry’ and ‘Mobile Cloud Computing’ are higher than the other topics. Since there is no f2f interaction between the teacher and the students, the instructions, guidelines and news are also published on the VLE by the teacher. Therefore the teacher’s role throughout this course is a facilitator. The students are searching in-depth knowledge about different areas in the Information Technology field by themselves and conduct the discussions as threads. At present most of the courses at UCSC are conducted in a fully f2f environment or in a blended environment. This course is significant since it is conducted in a totally online environment without a physical teacher as in the classroom education. The ultimate goal of conducting these types of courses is to enhance student-centered learning by promoting online education. At the end of the course, the student feedback is going be collected by giving a small survey questionnaire. Based on the survey results, an analysis can be carried out to get the students’ opinion towards the course. The final grades of the students are also analyzed to measure the effectiveness of this online course. Those results will be more useful to carry out future enhancement related to these types of courses. Therefore, it is clear that the use of technology enhanced learning and assessment techniques for undergraduates is a better way for the course modules for achieving student- centered learning within the traditional learning environment. It is more effective and efficient way of giving in-depth knowledge to the university students only with a guidance of the teacher. By using these types of e-assessments in academic environment will be helpful to develop the curriculum of the undergraduate degree programs.

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