The individual competence development needs vary, and very seldom there are a sufficient number of students having the same need at the same time to start a local class. It is imperative that these students can start their learning just at the time when they feel the need and are ready, and motivated, for learning. Because of a number of health, and often also social, difficulties, they need maximum flexibility to adjust study work to what they have the energy to manage on a daily or weekly basis
Local Support for Online Learners with Possible Learning Disadvantages
Local Support for Online Learners with Possible Learning Disabilities Torstein Rekkedal NKI Distance Education/Norwegian School of Information Technology
Information about vocational rehabilitation students <ul><li>Statistical information from the Labour and Welfare Administration (2009) on rehabilitation client diagnoses: </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological diseases/difficulties 26% </li></ul><ul><li>Drug/alcohol abuse 5% </li></ul><ul><li>Muscle/skeleton diseases 32% </li></ul><ul><li>Mentally retarded 2% </li></ul><ul><li>Sense losses 1% </li></ul><ul><li>Socially maladjusted 7% </li></ul><ul><li>Other (ADHD, mixed problems, uncertain) 27% </li></ul><ul><li>(unpublished data/covers 25% of clients) </li></ul>
Disabled and disadvantaged students in online education Proportion of disabled students in regular distance and online programmes differ – estimates vary from 1.5% to 4% (Paist 1995, Moisey 2005) Letrud (1997) at NKI estimated 10% of students in a vocational programme had severe reading and writing disabilities NKI general experiences indicate that there are a sufficient number of online students having need for specific attention concerning accessibility Attention to universal accessibility issues of web learning materials is beneficial for all students.
Accessibility and support Technology has ... “been viewed as a great equalizer when used by individuals with disabilities. However, the full potential of using technology in education to benefit individuals with disabilities is not being realized. Ironically, one reason this is happening is that not all students can access the technology that has the potential to provide a more accessible educational opportunity.” (Burgstahler et al. 2002, p. 1) “ Students (with disabilities) who received more types of support services tended to have somewhat more success in terms of course completions, and certain types of disabilities appeared to be more amendable to certain types of assistance.” (Moisey, 2005, p. 73) “… that an online course can improve students’ learning, emphasizing self-directed learning, participation in forums, satisfaction from online labs and the final grade evaluation. A slight but explicitly marginal advantage of the LD (learning disability) students was presented when compared to ‘Regular’ and ‘Excellent’ students.” (Shonfeld & Rohnen, 2009)
Information about vocational rehabilitation students <ul><li>Statements from local case handlers in the Labour and Welfare Administration: </li></ul><ul><li>“ We often see that clients have the intellectual capacity for formal learning, but cannot take advantage of the ordinary school system because of experiences of having lost self confidence in the ordinary school system, and often also have a personal situation with physical and psychological problems, including mental processing abilities, e.g. ADHD etc., that reduce their capabilities and make it impossible to spend whole days or whole weeks for study.” </li></ul><ul><li>There are large differences in needs, some struggle with anxiety problems, ... some have a history of being bullied in school etc.; ... the support in the rehabilitation enterprise gives social support and security for progress in the studies.” </li></ul>
Information about vocational rehabilitation students <ul><li>Some typical statements from local counsellors: </li></ul><ul><li>“ One of the problems is that they have all kinds of individual needs. It ranges from help to get up in the morning, meeting at agreed times, plan their studies, reading and writing. Many do have large reading and writing difficulties.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ ... Many lack social experiences and really need to be socialized.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ ... The client is often in a situation having lost social identity and role and economic security and has to define a new existence, this often combined with health problems that gives new frames of reference in life.” </li></ul>
Information about vocational rehabilitation students <ul><li>Statements from the students: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The flexibility of online learning is important as I have an ADHD diagnosis and concentration difficulties.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The flexibility is important because there are all sorts of different reasons for being in a rehabilitation programme. I have to take the days as they come.” </li></ul>
NKI Online Distance Education <ul><li>One of Europe’s largest providers of online distance education </li></ul><ul><li>More than 120 000 enrolments in online courses since 1987 </li></ul><ul><li>Broad range of subjects from secondary to master level </li></ul><ul><li>About 120 programmes and 400 courses online </li></ul><ul><li>About 12 000 active online students in about 40 countries </li></ul><ul><li>About 70 % women </li></ul><ul><li>Individual start and progress schedules/individual follow-up </li></ul><ul><li>Open intake of qualified students/always room for more students </li></ul>
Why not classroom and/or blended learning? <ul><li>The individual competence development needs vary - very seldom there are a sufficient number of students having the same need at the same time to start a local class. </li></ul><ul><li>It is imperative that these students can start their learning just at the time when they feel the need and are ready, and motivated, for learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of a number of health, and often also social, difficulties, they need maximum flexibility to adjust study work to what they have the energy to manage on a daily or weekly basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Regular classroom learning is for many a threat because of unfavourable previous school experiences. </li></ul>
Individual distance learning in the ‘learning room’ <ul><li>Guidance from local supervisor </li></ul><ul><li>Individual choice of courses and study programmes </li></ul><ul><li>Access to equipment, hardware and software </li></ul><ul><li>Personal work space for study </li></ul><ul><li>Technical support </li></ul><ul><li>Personal support, follow-up and adaptation </li></ul><ul><li>Support in making study and progression schedules </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptation for clients with special needs, reading/writing disabilities, number disabilities, visual handicaps etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Possibilities for cooperation </li></ul><ul><li>Social support from fellow students </li></ul><ul><li>Possibilities for study relevant practice </li></ul><ul><li>Structure of life/compulsory attendancy according to agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Online individual study as regular student at NKI </li></ul>
Research methodology <ul><li>Triangulation study: </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with local case handlers at the Labour and Welfare Administration offices – those deciding and financing competence development for vocational rehabilitation clients (12) </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with local counsellors in the vocational rehabilitation enterprises organising local support (25) </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with vocational rehabilitation clients studying online with support in the learning room (30 randomly selected) </li></ul><ul><li>Statistical information on study progression and success and compared with the regular online student population </li></ul>
Results interviews Labour and Welfare Administration – Case handlers Individual online learning combined with follow-up, support, guidance and social presence in a group of learners is much more effective than individual online distance learning for vocational rehabilitation clients. The learning room solution functions better than face-to-face for many clients because the solution in practice gives much better individual follow-up, and also because many clients have a history of bad experiences from previous school attendance resulting in negative attitudes and anxiety for participating in settings that reminds of a traditional school situation. The learning room solution is more flexible and better adapted to clients who have to relate efforts to unpredictable physical and/or psychological conditions that vary from day to day. Online learning combined with support and other activities, such as work practice in the vocational rehabilitation enterprise, is a good basis for success in returning to working life.
Results interviews Labour and Welfare Administration – Case handlers An example of a clear statement: “ We are so certain about the efficiency of online learning combined with the learning room solution that we have told the rehabilitation enterprises that they have no choice. They have to co-operate with online learning providers and establish the learning room solution if they wish to continue to be part of the co-operation with the Labour and Welfare Administration in the future.”
Results: Interviews with Local counsellors The local counsellors express a firm belief that the learning room solution represents an arrangement and organisation of online learning and local support that have proved its worth for the client group in question. They are, however, worried that many case handlers in the Labour and Welfare Administration have an outdated attitude towards training and competence development based on a belief that traditional classroom teaching universally represent the best solution for learning. They report that the clientss are satisfied both with online learning and local support, and that there is very little drop out among learners in the learning room. It seems that the only drop outs are students having so many health problems that study becomes impossible or that they succeed in returning to ordinary working life before completing the course. They point out that quality of online teaching is critical for success. The online teachers have to give quick and sufficiently constructive feedback. Individual assessment of each individual user’s motivation and health situation, as well as guidance in choosing courses and study planning, are necessary conditions for success.
Results: Interviews with Students Some typical and illustrative statements: “ It is important that you don’t have to sit at home alone; I am a social being, and it is very important with other participants present, even when they study other courses.” “ I am satisfied – the people in the rehabilitation enterprise are so helpful. No one else studies the same course as me now. In my previous course we were two students. It is very good when we are more than one in a programme; we discuss and solve exercises together. Everyone help each other. We constitute a tight-knit group. Some have already finished. I have got many new friends; it is an excellent situation of co-operation in the group.” “ I met regularly in the learning room. It is excellent, but much up to yourself; important to take initiative. I experienced that for many it was important with other participants present. For me that was not important – had no need for sharing with others.” “ The online tutor is pleasant and responds nearly immediately and you always get help when you ask. Absolutely satisfied – very good comments and feedback. I find the study guides very helpful.”
Results: Statistics Study status October 2010 for regular students and vocational rehabilitation students recruited 2006-2009 in the four programmes, Accounting, Salary and Personnel work, Caretaker and Office worker .
Results: Statistics Statistics for differences between the groups.
Results: Statistics Completion/non completion rates (October 2010) among students enrolled 2008 in the learning room and ordinary DE students in 35 selected study programmes. N (regular) 1778 N (rehabilitation) 178 χ² = 51.118, df = 2, p<.001
Conclusions The research was important because the increased use of the ’ learning room’ solution and in guiding the work of further development and transfer to other target groups, such as prison inmates. The interviews demonstrated a consistent satisfaction with the solution among (experienced) casehandlers, local counsellors and rehabilitation students. The general experiences indicated student success and satisfaction. The statistical results demonstrated that online learning with adequate local support functions even better than expectations for competence development for vocational rehabilitation clients. The rehabilitation clients who receives adequate support achieve better than the population of regular online learners at NKI.
Thank you! <ul><li>NKI Internet College: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.nki.no/ </li></ul><ul><li>Powerpoint Presentation: http://home.nettskolen.nki.no/torstein/attachments/article/3/EDEN2011LearningRoom.ppt </li></ul><ul><li>Torstein Rekkedal home page: http://home.nettskolen.nki.no/torstein/ </li></ul>