Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Students Experiences of Learning in Virtual Classrooms

ePrincipals & eMentors met with NZCER researchers Rachel Bolstad & Magdalene Lin to discuss the Interim Findings from an online survey they conducted with our students as part of a wider Research project of students studying through the VLN. This is just one stage of the research project. The next phase of the research process is to hold focus group meetings with elearning students & eteachers to dig deeper into the findings that are emerging.

Some key messages so far are about teaching & learning (this is relevant to face to face classrooms also) and about the importance of school support for our elearning students.

My Notes from our Meeting:

What sort of students surveyed? Majority of VC students like their teachers & like learning

What takes place during a VC class? Patterns show teacher directed. Exchanges between students were less common.

image What takes during study time? Completion of homework, discussions with other VC students in school. More likely to approach teachers within school before contacting VC teacher for help.

VC in general greater independence in learning but at expense of feeling less supported & less confident.

I really liked Conor’s point about needing our students to be responsible learners as opposed to independent learners. As ‘independent learner’ has connotations that they are on their own – when we know that it is important part of the learning process to be able to collaborate & work with others.


Comparing VC class to least & most favourite classes:

Least favourite & most favourite classes comparision comes from Competent learners @ 16 Project – rationale for classroom experiences.

Closer to most enjoyed classes than least enjoyed

Half of students don’t like asking the teacher questions in VC (similar to least fav. Class)

Generally students having few opportunities to lead interactions.

Relevance of learning:

More willing to drop VC subjects than favoured subjects

Students missed the hands on & practical, outside the classroom and so this tended to be compared to least favoured subjects

Use of ICT relatively uncommon as in other f2f classes

Suggest improvements – more interaction with VC teachers – more sessions, Communication & feedback between sessions, checking up on them, offering support, more interesting teaching, clearer information about their course. More support from school – VC rooms, timetabling, books, teacher supervision. More contact with other students in class.

There was nothing unexpected in these interim findings. All of the issues raised are things that ePrincipals are working hard at to improve for our students and i believe over time we are beginning to make a difference :-)

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