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Experts on e-learning: insights gained from listening to the student voice!

By Lynne Jump, Malcolm Ryan, Wendy Cealey Harrison, Rita Headington and Yana Tainsh

Abstract

The Student Experience of e-Learning Laboratory (SEEL) project at the University of Greenwich was designed to explore and then implement a number of approaches to investigate learners’ experiences of using technology to support their learning. In this paper members of the SEEL team present initial findings from a University-wide survey of nearly a 1000 students. A selection of 90 ‘cameos’, drawn from the survey data, offer further insights into personal perceptions of e-learning and illustrate the diversity of students experiences. The cameos provide a more coherent picture of individual student experience based on the\ud totality of each person’s responses to the questionnaire. Finally, extracts from follow-up case studies, based\ud on interviews with a small number of students, allow us to ‘hear’ the student voice more clearly. Issues arising from an analysis of the data include student preferences for communication and social networking tools, views on the ‘smartness’ of their tutors’ uses of technology and perceptions of the value of e-learning. A primary finding and the focus of this paper, is that students effectively arrive at their own individualised selection, configuration and use of technologies and software that meets their perceived needs. This ‘personalisation’ does not imply that such configurations are the most efficient, nor does it automatically suggest that effective learning is occurring. SEEL reminds us that learners are individuals, who approach\ud learning both with and without technology in their own distinctive ways. Hearing, understanding and responding to the student voice is fundamental in maximising learning effectiveness. Institutions should consider actively developing the capacity of academic staff to advise students on the usefulness of particular online tools and resources in support of learning and consider the potential benefits\ud of building on what students already use in their everyday lives. Given the widespread perception that students tend to be ‘digital natives’ and academic staff ‘digital immigrants’ (Prensky, 2001), this could represent a considerable cultural challenge

Topics: RT, LB2300
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:gala.gre.ac.uk:2260

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