24 November, 2005

CLTR’s Learning and Teaching Symposium: Web 2nd November 2005

While this conference was not focussed on e-learning, things related to our work came up several times.

Most interesting from that point of view was Lai Chan’s research on Web Based Learning. Her research explored post-registration student’s views on web-based learning in HE and asked whether Web based learning promotes of meta-learning.

Nine volunteers participated in the interview, all females between the ages of 38 and 52.

Her conclusions were that there were issues to do with:
-Communication and students feeling isolated. She quotes Anderson et al (2001) who observed that discussion stalls when there is a lack of teacher’s presence.
-Time management was an issue that come up with all students.
-7 out of the 9 had problems with reading online. Some of the students had physical disabilities that prevented them from reading online, and others said that it was uncomfortable.

In response to these issues, she advised that:
-Potential students should be prepared for silences in discussion, and the teacher should make known their presence from time to time.
-Students should also timetable regular times to study as part of their preparation to study online.
-Bernard et al (2002) were quoted as recommending shorter line lengths of 40-60 Characters per Line, for online materials.

An interesting point brought up by this research is the difficulty reading online. Is there text-to-speech software that we could recommend to students which would mean that they didn’t have to read online?

Could we record audio versions of text and use them as an alternative to text based materials? It seems from that small sample that there are accessibility issues with the materials that we are producing, and we should look at the possibilities.

I’d be interested to hear what people think about these issues.

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