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What do studying and teaching online look like? Looking at student and tutor video diaries

Presentation by Graham Healing and Chris Jones at the CALRG 2012 conference.

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Rebecca Ferguson
19 June 2012

This paper reports the methods and results from an evaluative project at the Open University examining students’ and Associate Lecturers’ experience of online materials and services provided for three Level 1 modules.  The project used a mixture of written and self-recorded video diaries during 3 one week long interventions and interviews at the beginning and end of 3 first level modules.  The modules (AA100, K101 and S104) were chosen for their importance as foundation modules in contrasting subjects and included a combination of electronic and printed material. Students were encouraged to use forums but could also attend face-to-face tutorials or day schools.

In total, seven ALs and twenty-one students were recruited as participants.  The main findings of the study were that:

  • Technology was not a highly salient issue.
  • Use of the module web site was regular and frequent.
  • There were no reports of any systematic difficulties with the OU Web presence.
  • Many students involved in this project used a small range of the features of the VLE.
  • There was evidence of a minority of students who were either excluded from access, or were late and reluctant adopters of new technology.
  • Technological change was perceived by the students and Associate Lecturers as continuous and unending.
  • Students and Associate Lecturers were engaged in an on-going and rapid process of technological change in particular in relation to:
    - Mobility - and the integration of various mobile devices including smartphones, tablet computers and e-book readers;
    - Reading - related to the recent availability of e-book readers and tablet computers
  • Mobile devices are now widely available but the way mobile possibilities and forms of access are taken–up is likely to be uneven.
  • The relationship between various devices and the availability of different kinds of network access combined to make a rich technological ecology.
  • Stable and regular practices surrounding the new devices had yet to be established.
  • The way students interact with technology and the institutional provision of technology, are both likely to become more diverse as mobile technologies and e-readers become embedded.
  • Online is an unclear term and was understood to mean two different things:
    Actively linked to a network and interacting via the network;
    Making use of a digital device (whether or not a network connection was in use).
  • The relationship between online and offline working was complex:
    - Students reported a wide variety of study practices which integrated both online and printed resources;

--Online resources were integrated with printed materials in note taking practices. Note taking processes were highly individualised student practices.

Our paper will focus on:

  • the methodological approach adopted to collect this data
  • a small number of issues from the full findings (including the changing picture in relation to mobility and e-book readers)
  • the long term issue of a preference for reading printed materials and how this might be affected by the rapid adoption of mobile devices and e-book readers.

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