IT Worked for Us: Online Strategies to Facilitate Learning in Large (Undergraduate) Classes pp179-188
Higher education institutions are compelled to accommodate growing class sizes as student numbers have increased over time, especially at undergraduate level. Good teaching principles are relevant to all class sizes. For example, teachers of all classes are required to create safe learning environments, motivate and engage students, interact with students, provide stimulating assessment tasks and give prompt feedback. However, meeting these requirements in the context of large classes is more challenging. As a result, traditional large class teaching methods are often characterised by the passive absorption of material, which is not ideal. What constitutes a large class? Class sizes of 60 or more have been considered large. In this paper, we report on online teaching, learning and assessment strategies for classes made up of approximately 600 first year students in Business Management 1 offered at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. The purpose of this ongoing research project is to integrate educational technologies in the classroom and study the impact of these classroom changes on the students' learning experience. The programme, which blends face‑to‑face teaching, paper‑based teaching materials and online learning by means of WebCTBlackboard tools, is now in its second cycle of implementation. This teaching strategy aims at greater lecturer‑student interaction, engaging students with the course materials on a regular basis and eliciting feedback from students, which is used to re‑teach concepts that the students find particularly difficult. The blended learning strategy resulted in enhanced student perceptions of the quality of teaching and learning, and a significant improvement in student throughput. The findings and recommendations reported in the paper are based on student feedback, gleaned through online surveys, online artefacts created by students and lecturers' classroom experiences. Although the authors report on online teaching, learning and assessment practices that proved to be effective in large classes, many conclusions may be of relevance to smaller classes.
Collaboration Creation: Lessons Learned From Establishing an Online Professional Learning Community pp60-75
This paper describes the design, implementation, evaluation and further refinement of an ELGG‑based social networking site to support professional development activity, project group and special interest groups, and the discussion and sharing of educational experiences and resources across Edinburgh Napier University in the United Kingdom. Beginning with a short overview of what online institutional communities might offer in sustaining good learning, teaching and assessment practice in‑house, this paper then describes the rationale for and development of Edinburgh Napier Education Exchange (ENEE). The subsequent evaluation undertaken employed a mixed method approach involving online questionnaires and individual interviews with users of ENEE, and took place between January and April 2011. The evaluation had a twin focus on use and perceptions of ENEE in general, and how ENEE was beginning to be used to provide additional support opportunities for a diverse group of educators studying on Edinburgh Napier’s online distance learning MSc Blended and Online Education (MSc BOE). Overall the evaluation highlighted a range of ways in which ENEE was proving effective particularly in helping users to ‘keep abreast’ of educational practice across the institution, as well as in supporting small groups dedicated to specific purposes and activities. On the less positive side, the evaluation highlighted a number of issues and challenges around ease of use, engaging in ‘multiple spaces’, and achieving ‘critical mass’ in meaningful use. These findings pointed towards a number of enhancements that were implemented over summer and autumn 2011, and the nature of these recent post‑evaluation changes to ENEE and the MSc BOE group space are detailed in this paper.