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Researching the student digital experience: What we learned about WebLearn Liz Masterman 25 th September 2012 Project team: Stuart Lee, Melissa Highton,

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Presentation on theme: "Researching the student digital experience: What we learned about WebLearn Liz Masterman 25 th September 2012 Project team: Stuart Lee, Melissa Highton,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Researching the student digital experience: What we learned about WebLearn Liz Masterman 25 th September 2012 Project team: Stuart Lee, Melissa Highton, Liz Masterman (LTG, OUCS) Kat Lee (SSP) Zoe Enstone, Nesrine Abdel Sattar (Graduate Researchers)

2 Genesis of the project SSPLTG DIGEDIGE Research into student experience in HE - Trigwell & Ashwin (2003) - Ertl et al. (2008) LTG Freshers’ Fair surveys Research into student experience of e-learning - JISC Learner Experience programme, incl. Thema (Masterman & Shuyska 2011) - Learner & Context (Davies et al.)

3 Research questions Mapping the architecture What digital systems and services does Oxford provide? Mapping the landscape How are these services experienced by Students? Staff? What shortcomings are there: Technical and usability? Gaps in support? What will be required in 5 years’ time?  Recommendations?

4 The challenge Reconcile the needs and preferences of 21 st -C students with… …Oxford’s traditions: Research-led learning: student as ‘adult participant’ The tutorial system as well as larger group teaching The principle of subsidiarity The buildings! © KT Lindsay Photography. All rights reserved

5 How we did it Student survey (687) Staff survey (94) Interviews with staff (37) Digital diaries (7) Digital suggestions box Focus groups: TPGs, RPGs, international, accessibility (20) Desk study: ‘Beyond Oxford’ (20 universities) Desk study: digital experience in schools Mapping the current systems (mostly between January and March 2012) Literature review

6 © University of Oxford. All rights reserved


8 The architecture mapped

9 The student perspective: How digital technologies can improve learning 1. Access to resources (find out where they are) 2. Improve quality of work 3. Online resources 4. Convenience 5. Enhance communication 6. Organise learning Open-ended survey question

10 The student perspective: ‘Creative’ use of digital technologies by teachers Aspect of learning 1. Lecture 2. Resources 3. Communications/ admin 4. Specific TEL activity 5. Online submission & feedback 6. Tutorial Specific benefit 1. Learning of concepts 2. Access to lecture materials 3. Show processes 4. Vary/motivate the learning experience 5. Communications/admi n Open-ended survey question

11 The student perspective: ‘Top 3’ tools/websites 1. Subject-specific websites 2. Facebook UG TPG 3. SOLO library catalogue UG TPG 4. Referencing software TPG RPG 5. WebLearn UG TPG 6. Wikipedia UG Open-ended survey question

12 Students on WebLearn Usability, usability, usability… (see later) Potential hub (portal) for studies: WebLearn seems to have great potential to be at the centre of every student’s studies at Oxford if the appropriate information was provided, but the system is quite slow to navigate. It should have some sort of personal interface that directly links to what I could need. It would also help to have everything in one place – email, GSS, WebLearn, OUCS registration things, even viewing your battels. There could be the Weblearn (or whatever) homepage with at least links to the the other sites at the top, instead of having 5 different websites for everything. Open-ended survey question

13 The staff perspective: Why talk to them? Lend support to students’ view (empathise) Need for ‘portal’/‘gateway’ to services Email ‘overload’ Complement data from students Student desire for instant access to online resources vs Oxford pedagogic model Supplement data from students Wider strategic context Staff experience of digital systems may impinge on students’ experience Knowledge of the digital experience in previous places of work Speak on behalf of students whom we cannot reach

14 What staff value… The materials that I use in my tutorials are available on WebLearn. At the same time I can download the lecture materials so my tutorials and the lectures are in sync. The ability of WebLearn to store and retrieve data is outstanding. …a great way to put problem sheet answers up for the students… Systems that are intuitive and do not need frequent repair work. […] Weblearn is superb. …useful for communicating with large numbers of people simultaneously and for people to be able to communicate with each other via the Forum tool. Open-ended survey question

15 Staff on students’ use of WebLearn They use it primarily as a source of materials Other forms of communication are more functional and easy to access They only use it if told to – not on their own initiative

16 So, what’s all this about usability? Poor mobile interface Cumbersome navigation Where am I? Visually unappealing Resources pages too like file & folder system Lack of flexibility in adding users and groups No batch upload of files Unintuitive interface  Forget functionality where use is infrequent Poor integration with OxCORT Lack of integration with other calendars Poor integration between test tool & mark book

17 Summing up… Difference between Oxford’s digital provision and other HEIs But... increasing adoption of WebLearn Saïd Business School Blavatnik School of Government Continuing Education Incoming lecturers enthusiastic

18 Summing up… Investment of time needed to realise full potential Division of labour Perceived shortcomings may also be related to: Lack of dedicated support Low awareness of learning activities supported… …therefore a low level of training in departments? Inconsistency in use  inconsistency in student digital experience A necessary, but regrettable, consequence of subsidiarity?

19 WebLearn-related recommendations Encourage storage of all learning material in WebLearn (ES4e/5) Release central resources to assist departments in: (ES5/6) a.enhancing WebLearn user interface and user experience; b.overhauling and redesigning sites; c.supporting academic staff in setting up WebLearn sites for their courses and making appropriate use of it in their teaching. Further disseminate ‘best practice’ in using IT (32) Adopt user-centred software design and development methodologies (ES12/18)

20 For more… You can download the DIGE project report from the SSP area in SharePoint:

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