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Journal Article

Assessing Student Transitions in an Online Learning Environment  pp75-86

Minoru Nakayama, Hiroh Yamamoto

© Apr 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECEL 2010 special issue, Editor: Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, pp1 - 114

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Abstract

Assessment surveys of students are often conducted in order to evaluate online learning activities. Most surveys measure responses to questions which are based on students’ subjective impressions. The purpose of this study is to examine participants’ assessments made during the transitional phase in an online learning environment which includes blended and fully online courses at a Japanese national university. Students were enrolled in two‑unit Master’s or Bachelor’s degree courses which were taught by the same professor. The total number of students with valid survey data was 184 (92 Masters, 67 Bachelors for the blended learning course and 25 Bachelors for the fully online course). A survey questionnaire consisting of 10 questions measured the self‑assessments of students’ online learning experiences. Three factors were extracted. There are no significant differences in all factor scores between the beginnings and the ends of the courses. These results show the coherence of students' assessments during the course. The correlation coefficients of the first factor scores (e‑learning evaluation) between the beginnings and the ends of the courses are not high, however (Masters: r=0.35, Bachelors for blended learning: r=0.46, and Bachelors for fully online: r=0.33). Therefore, some participants have changed their evaluations between the two surveys. When the differences in factor scores from the initial and final surveys are compared between students who rated the course highly at the beginning (high raters) and students who did not (low raters), the scores for the high raters decrease and the scores for the low raters increase. Also, the relationships between students’ transitions and the metrics of their behaviour were investigated.

 

Keywords: online learning, student assessment, assessment in transition, blended learning, fully online learning

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 9 Issue 1, ECEL 2010 special issue / Apr 2011  pp1‑114

Editor: Carlos Vaz de Carvalho

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Editorial

Vaz e‑Learning is one of the most active fields of research and practice in Europe, in all the education and training sectors. The use of new and innovative technologies for learning is raising expectations and motivation between researchers, teachers, students and other education stakeholders.The European Conference on e‑Learning (ECEL) is an annual event that has been at the forefront of this revolution. It brings together groups of people in a variety of areas related to e‑Learning seeking to combine cutting‑edge research with practical, real‑life applications, in order to advance the state of e‑Learning around Europe.

The 9th European Conference on e‑Learning ‑ ECEL 2010 took place in Porto, Portugal. Porto is renowned for its historical City Centre (World Heritage) and its wine but also for being an innovation‑prone city which is an excellent environment for an e‑learning conference. This special edition of EJEL is dedicated to ECEL 2010.

With an initial submission of 220 abstracts, after the double blind, peer review process there were 97 papers published in the Conference Proceedings, an acceptance rate that places ECEL 2010 on the top of the conference quality rankings. The number of high‑quality submissions to the conference required a thorough process of selection by the session chairs and the editors to finally produce this edition of the journal. The selected articles cover different points of view of e‑learning from a more technological approach to a more pedagogical one.

The first set of articles is precisely concerned with technological aspects and in particular with the importance of computer aided assessment systems in the efficiency of e‑learning. Trevor Barker presents a study on the importance of automated feedback to provide good quality individual feedback to learners. He also demonstrates that these systems, by relieving the teachers from the exhaustive task of test marking can give them more time for communicating with students. Escudeiro and Cruz present a very innovative approach to the grading of students' answers in free text. Their work minimizes fluctuations in the evaluation criteria, improves detection of plagiarism, reduces the assessment process time and allows teachers to focus on the feedback to the students. Gütl, Lankmayr, Weinhofer and Höfler approach the design, development and validation of an automatic test item creation tool. This tool is able to extract concepts out of textual learning content and create different types of questions on the basis of those concepts.

To complete this more technically‑oriented view, Kurilovas, Bireniene and Serikoviene present a model and several scientific methods for the quality evaluation of Learning Objects (LOs). They pay special attention to their reusability level, in particular, when crossing linguistic barriers.

The second set of articles focus on pedagogical aspects of e‑learning and in particular, in students' related issues. Karin Levinsen presents new concepts related with e‑learning. She addresses the phenomenology of acquiring digital literacy and self‑programming in order to be able to identify relevant learning objectives and scaffolding.

Marques and Belo approach the profiling of student through their web usage habits. Through their investigations they can discover what students do, by establishing user navigation patterns on Web based platforms, and learn how they explore and search the sites’ pages that they visit. Nakayama and Yamamoto also address student issues by examining participants’ assessments made during the transitional phase in a learning environment which includes blended and fully online courses. O’Hara, Reis, Esteves, Brás and Branco focus on the effectiveness of learning through sports with the systematic integration of interactive situations in different contexts, with or without electronic devices. Sabey and Horrocks tackle the need for new electronic resources for health research for use within the context of a classroom taught course. They describe the process of developing an interactive resource incorporating a narrative element. Finally, Tuncay, Stanescu and Tuncay present a very innovative approach to the use of metaphors in e‑learning to reinforce communication between students and teachers.

As chair of ECEL 2010 and editor of this special edition of EJEL I feel privileged to have been in contact with such exciting thoughts, ideas and projects presented by the authors. It is now my pleasure to pass on to you this collection of articles, knowing for sure that they will motivate you to continue or even to start your research, development or use of e‑Learning as a major learning strategy. I also look forward to meeting you in Brighton, this autumn, for another fascinating ECEL conference.

 

Keywords: active learning, assessment, assessment in transition, automated systems, automated test item creation, blended learning, Clickstream analysis, computer-based assessment, design for teaching and learning, development, distance learning, e-assessment, eLearning, evaluation, evidence-based practice, feedback, free-text assisted grading, fully online learning, learning objects, lifelong learning, Markov chains, metaphors, multiple criteria decision analysis, narrative, natural language processing, Navigation paths analysis, networked society, nurse education, online learning, optimisation, quality evaluation, research methods teaching, reusability, self-directed learning, self-programming, skills acquisition, sport, student assessment, students, SurveyMonkey, task design, technology, text mining, web based elearning platforms, web usage profiling.

 

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