Volume 1 (2022-2023)

Advances in Online Education: A Peer-Reviewed Journal is free-to-view for all subscribers and subscribing institutions.

Each volume consists of four quarterly 100-page issues, published online. The articles published in Volume 1 are listed below. 

Volume 1 Number 4

  • Editorial:
    Amelia Clarke, Publishing Editor
  • Papers
    Data services and the librarian: Supporting early career researchers and online learners via the library
    Elizabeth Szkirpan, Director of Bibliographic Services, University of Tulsa McFarlin Library, USA

    Library aid in research data creation and usage is an important component in preparing researchers for ethical careers. Librarians as research guides, curators and advocates for open access information have been a long-established practice for some academic libraries, and while the topic of data in libraries is frequently discussed, libraries are often without guidance on how to launch these services. This paper explores data services available to online learners offered by R1 and R2 university libraries that academic libraries investigating the inclusion of data services may consider for their own research communities. While the investigator is unable to identify a common framework among these research institutions, study results demonstrate a higher proportion of services and information available in online formats by R1 institutions over R2 institutions.
    Keywords: libraries, academic libraries, library services, research data, data services, online learning

  • Learning management systems and online tools to support continuous workplace learning in academic libraries
    Jennifer Browning, Department Head, Carleton University Library, Canada

    In today’s evolving academic landscape, which has been made even more changeable by the COVID-19 global pandemic, library managers and administration must consider accessible and sustainable methods for providing continuous workplace learning programmes for library staff. Establishing sustainable continuous workplace learning and professional development initiatives is critical for library staff to remain confident in their service delivery and use of digital tools. It is possible for libraries to develop online continuous workplace learning programmes that employ an array of online tools that are already in use by the library, such as those used for course delivery, internal documentation and online communication. Specifically, as many libraries make use of learning management systems (LMS) to embed their information literacy programming for faculty and students, there is an opportunity to strategically use LMS to support professional development and continuous workplace learning for library staff. Drawing from examples for Carleton University Library, this paper explores how the use of an LMS and other online tools for continuous workplace learning can provide library staff with equitable online access to develop essential technical and practical skills, while helping to build a workplace culture that prioritises learning and skill development. Employing these tools in continuous learning and training programmes can allow libraries to become ‘learningful’ workplaces where staff at all levels are supported and are confident in their work.
    Keywords: academic libraries, professional development, continuous workplace learning, learning management systems, online tools, learning organisation

  • Augmented and virtual realities for distance teaching and learning
    Wendy Stephens, Associate Professor, College of Education and Professional Studies, Jacksonville State University, USA

    Augmented and virtual realities offer affordances not previously available to learners that, with the appropriate hardware, software and scaffolding, can lead to immersive and rewarding educational experiences for learners of all levels and content areas. For distance students, the shift to alternate realities offers a particularly ripe area for shifting the educational workspace to mobile accessible, kinaesthetically resonant encounters with spaces and objects. This discussion of the evolution of visual representations of digital objects and places will highlight some of the areas of interest for those considering mixed realities, how hardware and computing power can vary by approach, and how these technologies can help students better understand the emerging virtual world.
    Keywords: augmented reality, virtual reality, mobile computing, 3D modelling, virtual worlds

  • Teaching in the hybrid virtual classroom
    Zac Woolfitt, Researcher, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands

    Seven college lecturers and two senior support staff were interviewed during 2021 about their experiences teaching in hybrid virtual classrooms (HVC). These technology-rich learning environments allow teachers to simultaneously teach students who are in class (on campus) and students who are joining remotely (online). There were two reasons for this choice: first, ongoing experimentation from innovative teaching staff who were already using this format before the COVID-19 pandemic; secondly, as a possible solution to restrictions on classroom size imposed by the pandemic. Challenges lecturers faced include adjusting teaching practice and lesson delivery to serve students in the class and those online equally; engaging and linking the different student groups in structured and natural interactions; overcoming technical challenges regarding audio and visual equipment; suitably configuring teaching spaces and having sufficient pedagogical and technical support to manage this complex process. A set of practical suggestions is provided. Lecturers should make reasoned choices when teaching in this format since it requires continued experimentation and practice to enhance the teaching and learning opportunities. When external factors such as classroom size restrictions are the driving force, the specific type of synchronous learning activities should be carefully considered. The structure and approach to lessons needs to be rethought to optimise the affordances of the hybrid virtual and connected classroom. The complexity of using these formats, and the additional time needed to do it properly, should not be underestimated. These findings are consistent with previous literature on this subject. An ongoing dialogue with faculty, support staff and especially students should be an integral part of any further implementation in this format.
    Keywords: hybrid virtual classroom, blended synchronous learning, synchronous education, hybrid learning, split attention, pedagogy, technology

  • The Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach: An eight-step learning cycle for digital age pedagogy
    Helaine W. Marshall, Professor of Education and Director of Language Education Programs, Long Island University-Hudson and Ilka Kostka, Teaching Professor, Northeastern University, USA

    The sudden pivot to online teaching necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic left many university instructors floundering. One group of educators ready to overcome these challenges, however, was a small but growing community that had been teaching using the Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach (SOFLA). The goal of SOFLA is to provide instructors with a template for learner-centred online instruction that allows for creativity and freedom within each structured step of a learning cycle. The approach draws from principles of flipped learning pedagogy and best practices in online learning to offer a robust framework for technology-based instruction with both synchronous and asynchronous components. This paper begins by defining flipped learning and then rethinking it in terms of the online instructional context. Following this is a description of the eight steps of SOFLA that offers details and caveats to aid implementation. Then, the authors discuss what SOFLA offers educators and their students in terms of online teaching more generally. Finally, the conclusion provides suggestions for future work on SOFLA and for online flipped learning.
    Keywords: online learning, flipped learning, flipped classroom, synchronous learning, higher education, COVID-19 pandemic, learner-centred instruction

  • Case studies
    Making space for the rabbit hole: Art education and eLearning development post-pivot
    Araminta Matthews, Instructional Designer and Professional Writer, Kennebec Valley Community College and The University of Maine and UM at Presque Isle and Maura Conley, Learning Designer, Center for Teaching/Adjunct Professor, Pratt Institute, USA

    The pivot to eLearning might have been a bitter pill to swallow for many at first — particularly art educators who find their pedagogy and andragogy steeped in the physical studio space. Soon educators came to notice the value online education was adding to learners’ experiences. Where some students were silent in class, they were vociferous in online forums. Their ability to attend to instructional content improved as they could watch and rewatch lessons and demonstrations. Art students began to view their artistic installations and studio practice from the metacognitive lens: how do I prepare my art for this physical space as well as how do I capture my art for the digital experience of that installation? In this case study, the authors describe their successes with social presence and engagement in art education eLearning, provide strategies for maximising art learner engagement online, share experiential evidence and preliminary survey data to support their observations around improved student engagement in class and beyond, and offer strategies art educators and administrators can immediately implement on campuses or in courses.
    Keywords: eLearning, art education online, pedagogy, andragogy, reflection, pandemic pivot

  • Building a class community online in an age of isolation
    Meg Eubank, Professor, Bucks County Community College, USA

    In this best practice paper, pandemic-induced challenges informed innovative teaching strategies developed by a high school teacher of English as a second language at a private school in northeast United States whose international students Zoomed into class from their home countries. Representing seven different countries in three different continents over six different time zones, the students were not able to convene online at the same time, hampering the goal of interacting with each other to gain confidence in using English socially and academically. Employing a variety of technological platforms, this teacher redesigned the programme to allow student-to-student and student-to-teacher access and ultimately resulted in building a community that reached beyond the classroom.
    Keywords: asynchronous, online, community, belonging, ESL, digital portfolios

Volume 1 Number 3

  • Editorial:
    Catherine Hyland, Publishing Editor
  • Papers
    Finding synergy in diversity during interprofessional team-teaching
    Irene Lubbe, Senior Lecturer and Researcher and Yurgos Politis, Lecturer, Elkana Center, Central European University

    Co-teaching is, at its best, a rewarding and, at its worst, a highly stressful endeavour. This is especially true when two newly acquainted colleagues from vastly different backgrounds and different environments are thrown together to co-teach a new course, at an unfamiliar institution, in a new country, mid-COVID-19-pandemic. This leads to interesting conversations, challenges and opportunities, resulting in valuable lessons that can be used in a variety of educational settings. In this narrated single case study we analysed the brutally honest reflective reports written by the authors of this paper. The authors made use of an autobiographical writing style for data collection and reporting. Using grounded theory and Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis methodology, we identified six themes with subsequent sub-categories from these reflective reports. The themes varied from deep personal emotions and feeling, spanning the emotional spectrum of guilt and irritation, to the opposite side of the spectrum of patience, back-up and safety-nets. Other themes that emerged focused on organisational components, role differentiation, relationships and experiences, then, not surprisingly, the added value for the students. This paper ends with practical tips for novice and established lecturers who want to dip their toes into this interesting but rewarding whirlpool of team-teaching. It further contains suggestions on how to exit (or continue) this endeavour with your sanity intact, happy students and new professional relationships forged.
    Keywords: co-teaching; diversity; team-teaching; reflective analysis; university teaching; professional relationships; student experience

  • Using data to create excellence in online student support
    Bettyjo Bouchey, Associate Professor and Vice Provost, Michael Graham, Vice President and Chief Information Officer and Veronica Wilson, Executive Director, National Louis University

    In 2017 National Louis University (NLU) set out to grow its online programming through the use of an online programme manager (OPM) — a third-party, for-profit entity focused on expanding an institution’s online programme capacity and academic support activities. So began a journey of learning, specifically in the area of online student support to improve student retention through the use of data generated by the learning management system and other data systems at NLU, as well as a series of actionable protocols carried about by faculty and staff meant to improve student outcomes. This paper analyses what resulted from this: an appreciable improvement in online student retention and a culture of data-informed action and student-focus that serves the institution to this day.
    Keywords: online student retention; online programme managers; data-informed student advising; data visualisation; communication protocols for student at-risk management

  • Laurillard’s six types of learning in the contemporary HEI landscape : An institutional analysis of student digital learning experiences
    Laura Hollinshead, Senior Lecturer and Melanie Pope, Associate Professor, University of Derby

    In 2020–21 higher education (HE) students experienced a larger portion of their learning online than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) introduced the use of digital education models to help them outline the approach to remote delivery required during various periods of restrictions on campus delivery. With this trend continuing post-pandemic, it is therefore vital that institutions understand the current student digital experience, the benefits and challenges they face, and what this means for the strategic use of technology enhanced learning (TEL) and the introduction or further development of digital education models within the HEI. This paper articulates an approach used by one HEI for analysing this experience through the lens of Laurillard’s six types of learning. Focusing on the analysis of qualitative data through an institution-wide student survey about the digital experience, the paper outlines the barriers and mitigating approaches used to overcome these experienced by students. Flexible learning opportunities and interaction with academics and peers both emerged as dominant themes within the data, clearly indicating their importance for any future digital education model introduced within the HEI. The use of Laurillard’s six types of learning revealed a focus on acquisition-based activities within students’ experience of digital aspects of their learning, but also the need for facilitated activities helping them to reflect on their learning and their progress. Further research is required to explore the use of Laurillard’s six types of learning to analyse the student digital learning experience within HEIs, and to understand the seventh type of learning, ‘reflection on learning’, in providing a contemporary analysis of Laurillard’s model in the post-pandemic landscape.
    Keywords: digital experience; educational models; institutional; Laurillard; higher education

  • The role of aesthetics in redesigning accessible information literacy modules
    Rachel Edford Trnka, Instruction & Engagement Librarian, University of Central Florida Libraries

    The outbreak of COVID-19 added an increased sense of urgency to creating accessible online materials for higher education professionals, including academic librarians, as they explored new ways to engage with users online. Librarians who relied on in-person sessions to provide information literacy instruction to students shifted to synchronous and asynchronous instruction methods. This paper shares the experiences of an instruction librarian tasked with evaluating and redesigning a set of asynchronous information literacy modules for first-year undergraduate students in the summer of 2020. The evaluation and redesign were informed by contemporary debates about the design of online instructional materials from a web design and instructional design (ID) perspective. In particular, the author sought to investigate the claim that increasing the accessibility of online learning objects decreases their aesthetic appeal. Discussions of aesthetics and design are largely absent in the professional literature of library and information science (LIS), yet they are relevant, as many librarians perform ID duties. Since definitions of aesthetics are far-ranging, the author employed a specific framework discussed by Brown et al. — contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity (CARP) — for assessing the aesthetic value of the modules. After utilising a variety of tools to evaluate the accessibility of the modules along with the CARP framework, the author concluded that increasing the accessibility of the modules also increased their aesthetic value.
    Keywords: online education; accessibility; aesthetics; instructional design (ID); library and information science (LIS); academic librarianship

  • Building a digitalised society: Opportunities and challenges of Austria’s three-pillar system of digital education
    Andreas Riepl, Head, eEducation Austria

    In 2016 the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research initiated a network that combined all projects related to education and the digital agenda, called eEducation. The aim of the network, membership of which is free, is to help schools develop their digitalisation concepts. It distributes yearly funds for further teacher education to schools based upon their development level within the network. All central strategies related to digital developments are coordinated with the network. Two annual conferences help educators connect and exchange thoughts on using digital media in classroom work. eEducation is based at the University of Education in Upper Austria. Recent developments, notably the digi.case initiative in primary schools and the eight-point action plan, have achieved a good coverage and acceptance within the teaching community. Digital reference frameworks such as the European DigCompEdu and DigComp as well as national frameworks such as digi.komp4, 8, 12 and P are used for assessment purposes for both students and teachers. The new compulsory subject ‘Basic Digital Education’ has been introduced in 2022 for lower secondary schools (levels 5 to 8), based on an initiative for further teacher qualification which is offered by the Universities of Education throughout Austria. Teaching this subject involves using a competency-based concept that combines knowledge about how technology works but also what this means to the individual and society. All lower secondary schools in Austria participating in the device initiative as part of the eight-point action plan were able to choose the technological base; further teacher education is being undertaken related to the specific settings of each school. Financing is provided by the Federal Ministry. The eEducation network focuses on strengthening the digital skills of teachers to enable them to use digital media during classroom work, which also helps to develop digital competences of students. Organisational development is also taken into consideration by providing tools to develop digitalisation concepts. State coordinators of eEducation are part of the network and give feedback and support to schools. The Johannes Kepler University Linz is monitoring the developments of both the network and national digital strategies and publishes research findings. The overall purpose of all these initiatives is to build a well-established structure of a digitalised society in Austria.
    Keywords: digital media literacy; digital competences; DigCompEdu; DigComp; classroom work; school development; further teacher education

  • A doctoral distance classroom: Unpacked and envisaged
    Kelly McKenna, Associate Professor, Colorado State University and Christine Kyser, Associate Professor, University of Northern Colorado

    This visually based study explored the distance higher education learning space for a hybrid doctoral programme. Thirteen doctoral students presented visual images representing the distance learning space, a non-tangible space. Corresponding photo self-elicitation and photo-production were analysed with the images to define the distance learning space and its makeup. Five themes emerged as necessary to the distance learning space: a) the physical space in which learning occurs; b) support systems; c) goals/accomplishments; d) community; and e) technology/tools. It was discovered that significant learning is occurring in student-created learning spaces external to the learning management system (LMS). Findings from this study may provide foundational characteristics for online educators in creating effective distance learning spaces and facilitating learning at a distance at the doctoral level.
    Keywords: learning communities; online education; distance learning environment; visual methodologies; technology-enhanced learning

  • Physiology for all: Reflections on the design and delivery of a MOOC to enhance subject knowledge in physiology
    Rebecca Randles, Senior Researcher, University of Chester, et al.

    Interactive digital technologies have begun to be an increasingly important tool within Higher Education (HE). One example of such technology is that of eLearning, particularly with the growing interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Prospective students would have the benefit of utilising MOOCs to explore potential pathways and subject areas, with physiology chosen to be developed into a MOOC to raise the profile with a view to improving recruitment into physiology or physiology-related study pathways. The course was created in 2017 and to date, 17,986 individuals have enrolled onto the course with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Upon reflection, the MOOC reached some of the target audience; however, the majority appeared to be those who were in employment and were utilising the resource to enhance their learning. Lessons learnt from the development and implementation of the MOOC include the importance of collaboration and partnerships, particularly with the target audience, to ensure the course is fit for purpose. In addition, the planning of the MOOC itself was found to be of great importance; the team discovered the importance of utilising storyboards to develop the scripts and interaction opportunities as well as ensuring the inclusion of demonstrations and animations to help learners visualise key concepts and essential information. While the initial ambition for the Physiology MOOC was targeted at a younger demographic, in preparation for their journey into further or higher education, and potentially a career in the discipline, the data indicates limited impact in this regard. A potential reason for this could be the platforms on which the MOOC was promoted: the target audience may be better reached through promotion in schools and colleges; there may also be a lack of awareness of the platform within this population. Although it is questionable as to whether a MOOC is the most appropriate vehicle for this purpose, the evidence suggests that a large number of learners across the demographic spectrum benefitted greatly from the learning materials and evaluated them highly.
    Keywords: MOOC; online learning; virtual learning; higher education; eLearning

  • Connecting the pages: Aligning online course development with academic professional development for student success in online learning
    Clare Lloyd, Senior Manager of Education Development and Annika Herb, Education Development Lead, University of Newcastle and Michael Kilmister, Academic Developer, University of Reading

    Reflecting on the experience of designing and implementing a fully online degree at scale intended for a global student body, the authors propose that online course design is an important but under-considered form of educational development practice that enhances student success. Through the collaborative practice, professional and academic staff developed skills in digital pedagogy knowledge, digital literacy, presentation skills, learning management system and platform-specific course facilitation, embedding accessibility and writing for online delivery. Embedding professional development in online course design imparted a holistic understanding of learning, contributing to student success in online learning. Those involved in developing educator capacity and online learning in higher education will find value in this paper, including educator developers, learning designers, educational technologists, teaching academics and administrators.
    Keywords: professional development; learning design; collaborative; online course design

  • Beyond asynchrony: Evaluating hybrid and live online teaching
    Thomas J. Tobin, Senior Teaching & Learning Developer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    The research and advice in Evaluating Online Teaching (2015) covered the range of then-possible online instructional scenarios — what we might nowadays call ‘traditional’ online spaces such as learning management system (LMS) shells that afforded a highly mediated and structured range of possible interactions among instructors, learners and the tool sets within those spaces. Largely asynchronous, online teaching left a clear trail of observable phenomena. Announcement posts, discussion threads and comments on student work were all captured in the LMS space. At the time of publication, we worried that such a cornucopia of observable data points would lead to ‘analysis paralysis’, and we advised observers of online teaching to limit their observations to one unit or online session, much as an on-ground observer might observe only one or two class periods of live class time. We now find ourselves in an instructional world where the bounded environment of the LMS seems almost simple. Especially as a result of the emergency remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the possible permutations and definitions of ‘online teaching’ have exploded. For those of us tasked with observing, evaluating, crediting and critiquing the teaching that happens at our institutions, we can no longer assume that looking in one ‘place’ — whether that is a classroom, an LMS shell or a Zoom recording of a live remote session — will afford us a representative sample of the teaching practices and behaviours that instructors exhibit. This best-practice paper outlines what has changed in technology-supported and technology-mediated teaching and offers ways to observe and assess online teaching that are consistent, equitable and fair.
    Keywords: evaluation; assessment; observation; Zoom; LMS; hyflex; blended

Volume 1 Number 2

  • Editorial:
    Catherine Hyland, Publishing Editor
  • Papers
    Designing inclusive digital materials for ‘generation lockdown’ students: An author’s story
    Jane Southall, Senior Fellow, Kingston Business School

    Designing digital learning materials for the most experienced online learners higher education (HE) has yet to encounter requires more than embedding videos and quizzes into virtual learning environments (VLEs). It is more important than ever to create content in an engaging and fully interactive way, cover key concepts but make sure that each section is not too long and use clear and concise language. Breaking up text using photographs that show a range of ethnicities, ages, genders and abilities is vital but not easily achieved. Academic and critical thinking skills need to be embedded and scaffolded throughout.
    Keywords: diverse, inclusive, interactive, digital learning, higher education, virtual learning environments

  • Exploring British and Finnish pre-registration nursing students’ experiences of learning emergency and acute care nursing through a collaborative online international classroom
    Sheila Cunningham, Deputy Dean, Research and Knowledge Exchange, Middlesex University and Anna-Kaisa Partanen, Senior Lecturer, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

    Background: This case study describes the development and evaluation of a collaborative online international learning (COIL) nursing collaboration between Finland and UK in ‘Care of the Acutely Ill Patient’. Aim: The aim was to plan and deliver an online programme of learning experiences on a shared professional subject with mixed international students, then evaluate this learning experience with a view to expanding or extending it in future as a core element of our nursing programmes. Method: A steering group led the design format of this short course, aligning it to each university’s curriculum and professional goals. Then, a teaching team devised the learning materials and learning sessions. Finally, the steering group evaluated the course. In total there were 38 student participants (Finland n=21, UK n=17). Results: 80 per cent (n=20) of students felt that their understanding of the subject had increased as a result of taking the course. In total 64 per cent (n=16) felt that the course had enabled them to gain skills to help their future career development. Perceptions of working in mixed international groups was diverse, with challenges of communication, time and perceptions of what constituted ‘group work’ between UK and Finnish students. Learning new nursing aspects from teachers and peers as well as sharing ideas from another country in a novel way was perceived as beneficial and overall ‘uplifting’. Conclusion: This COIL has significant strengths but also some challenges. The outcomes of this case study point to its potential and value within nursing and other professional programmes.
    Keywords: COIL, nursing education, course design, virtual exchange

  • Challenges of technology accessibility, computer self-efficacy, computer anxiety and cyberphobia in adoption of e-learning systems among students
    Bilquis Ferdousi, Associate Professor, School of Information Security and Applied Computing, Eastern Michigan University

    Integration of emerging digital technology in academic learning is becoming prevalent in higher education. In the current educational environment, it is important to adopt new advanced technology that changes the way learning is processed in academic institutions. Students’ inaccessibility to technologies required in their class, as well as their lack of confidence in using technology, are, however, obstacles in their adoption of new technology for successful continuation of online learning or e-learning. Based on a systematic and extensive review of research in current literature, the study described in this paper investigated the factors that create challenges in students’ technology adoption for their academic learning. The literature reviewed included recent and relevant studies supported by the classical theories in this area. The finding shows that accessibility to the required technology, along with psychological factors such as computer self-efficacy and computer anxiety or cyberphobia, have an impact on students’ adoption of e-learning systems. This paper summarises the current state of relevant knowledge and suggests several strategies to address the challenges of these factors that create obstacles to achieving effective learning objectives in the e-learning environment. The study plans to provide a better understanding regarding students’ accessibility to advanced computer technology and the psychological factors that may affect their successful achievement in e-learning.
    Keywords: technology accessibility, computer self-efficacy, computer anxiety, cyberphobia, e-learning systems adoption

  • Nature-based extended reality for inclusive learning in environmental design
    George Elvin, Associate Professor, North Carolina State University

    As inclusive learning gains importance in higher education, can online education help make the virtual experience of nature and design in nature available to all? Too often, outdoor experiences such as field trips require resources beyond the reach of some students. But through the use of virtual reality headsets and related technologies, extended reality (XR) can create virtual nature-based educational experiences for all students. This is particularly important in environmental education, which centres on design for and understanding of natural environments. This paper proposes innovative online learning strategies and technologies in nature-based extended reality (NXR) courses for inclusive learning in environmental design. It describes the author’s planning of a NXR graduate architectural design course. It also offers a framework for structuring the ideas, activities and resources required to offer such NXR courses in an environmental design curriculum. A pilot NXR course has taken place in autumn 2022. Later publications will discuss the results of this experiment and evaluate its success. The pilot course is a graduate seminar in the author’s College of Design that has been taught for eight semesters. The pilot course can provide valuable lessons transferable to all of the design studio courses that form the backbone of a learner’s educational experience in the college. The pilot project is intended to create interactive, immersive, virtual experiences to all students on the course. NXR will allow the students to not only visit the site of a building design project and interact with design clients virtually, but also enable the students to design the project collaboratively in a virtual reality environment. This can be achieved without requiring students to buy or rent expensive equipment. More importantly, NXR learning makes these experiences available to all students regardless of ability and resources.
    Keywords: nature-based learning, outdoor education, virtual reality, extended reality, design education

  • Developing online teaching and learning: The potential benefits of ‘listening’ to student voices for staff professional development and authentic student engagement
    Sue Taylor, Senior Lecturer, Kirstin Mulholland, Lecturer in Education, David Nichol, Senior Lecturer in Education, Arlene Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Education and Jane Davies, Senior Lecturer in Education, Northumbria University

    This paper explores the potential role of authentic student voice in developing online teaching and learning in an undergraduate Initial Teacher Education programme in a UK higher education context. It considers the benefits of harnessing students’ insider perspectives as ‘expert witnesses’ through providing an exemplar of practice in relation to establishing systems for gathering both ‘feed-forward’ and ‘feed-back’ information to inform the iterative development of educational provision. Alongside similar studies internationally, the authors propose that authentic engagement with student voice has positive implications for staff professional development, as well as improving student engagement and lived experiences of learning. The paper details staff and students’ perceptions and experiences of adaptations to online educational provision and pedagogic practice resultant from the iterative development process. Inductive thematic analysis identifies three principal adaptations to practice: organisation and communication to suggest that these adaptations enriched staff understanding of student engagement and facilitated rapid adaptations to educational provision in order to support access and understanding, as well as the development of positive working relationships. Further evidence suggested that the establishment of systems to ‘listen’ to student voice also led to increased engagement, ownership, and an increasing sense that their perspectives were recognised and valued.
    Keywords: student voice, student perceptions of teaching and learning, online education, collaborative professional development, student engagement, action research

  • Flipped classroom: Benefits and challenges
    Maria B. Cequeña, Academic Department Head and Niña Svetlana M. Mendoza, HUMSS Programme Adviser, Catholic Filipino Academy Homeschool (CFAH), Philippines and Johnny T. Amora, Director for Institutional Effectiveness and Research, De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde

    Flipped classroom (FC) has been a popular subject of research in recent years. FC is a student-centred teaching method that enables learners to study the learning content at home and apply it in school through in-class activities provided by the teacher. This action research was conducted to determine the Grade 11 senior high school students’ attitude towards the FC, their perceived benefits of FC, the challenges they experienced in FC and their recommendations to improve its implementation. A total of 49 students, 18 males and 31 females, aged 16–20 years participated in this study. They were enrolled in the reading and writing skills subject and were taught using the FC model for 13 weeks, with one weekly synchronous online session of 1 hour and 15 minutes per session. The other days of the week were reserved for their pre-work and post-work activities. On the 14th week, a researcher-made attitude survey was administered to the respondents via g-forms. Their responses to Likert scale questions that measure their attitudes towards the FC were calculated using mean and their responses to open-ended questions were coded using Akcayir and Akcayir’s (2018) categories for the benefits and challenges. Findings show that students exhibited a positive cognitive, affective and behavioural attitude towards FC. In fact, they reported that they enjoyed the FC activities and learned many things using this teaching method. They also perceived that FC has several benefits such as increased knowledge, engagement, better retention of the concepts learned, better preparation before the class, and opportunities for flexible learning. They also recognised the challenges they had experienced during its implementation, however, such as limited preparation before the class and lack of interaction due to shyness and fear of negative evaluation from peers. With the perceived benefits of FC, educators can utilise this teaching method to promote engagement and learning achievement.
    Keywords: flipped classroom (FC), attitude towards FC, benefits and challenges of FC

  • The use of self-directed learning among immigrants to access online educational resources
    Luis Orozco, Doctoral Student, Ball State University

    This paper presents a phenomenological study focusing on understanding the experiences of how well-educated immigrants use their self-directed learning (SDL) capacity to access online educational resources to regain economic status. Our framework assumes that highly educated immigrants face accreditation and language barriers. To counteract this situation, immigrants use their self-directed learning capacity to look for and access online learning resources to acquire education including language skills. Using a phenomenology qualitative approach, three immigrants were interviewed to understand how they used their self-directed learning to access educational resources, The finding suggests that immigrants in a host country face challenges such as accreditation and language barriers, which become some of the trigger elements that foster their SDL approach to look for online educational resources. Specific examples of the use of SDL were found during the analysis. Practitioners, government and local support organisations can use the results to provide immigrants access to online educational resources.
    Keywords: immigrants, self-directed learning, adult education, technology, downward mobility

  • Serial-iously?: Using a narrative podcast as a shared learning experience to facilitate engagement and critical thinking
    Rachel V. Smydra, Faculty Member, Oakland University

    The transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic cast a spotlight on online courses and their lack of high-impact practices that encourage active learning. One high-impact practice that can facilitate active learning in an online course is a shared experience. Providing mutual access to a common course resource in an online course generates opportunities for students to not only engage with each other and the content but also to develop their critical thinking skills. Narrative podcasts work well to fill this role because they are story-driven and call on listeners to use their imagination and sensory and perceptual skills to process and visualise information. Therefore, as a digital learning tool, a podcast can support course design principles that promote engagement and skill development, since this strategy lends itself to creating a collaborative space where students create knowledge through engagement and reflection. Although literature exists on the value of using lecture podcasts or student-generated podcasts, little scholarship investigates using a narrative podcast as a shared experience. Employing a constructivist lens, this qualitative study examined student perceptions in an asynchronous online English undergraduate critical writing course about their experiences. Findings suggested that using a narrative podcast as a shared learning experience enhanced levels of engagement and fostered better efficacy in critical thinking. Therefore, this study adds to the knowledge base about narrative podcasts as pedagogical tools to create a high-impact practice in an online course.
    Keywords: narrative podcast, listening, engagement, critical thinking, active learning, shared experience, online instruction

  • Advances in education: Using a game-based learning platform in the online learning environment
    Ellen Spender, Senior Lecturer in Accounting, Swansea University

    Technology, in recent decades, has advanced at an exponential rate and, for experienced educators, the arrival of technology such as mobile phones into the classroom did not occur without problems. Where students persist in bringing them out in the class, educators often remind them that the phone will not help them when they sit their exams. With the emerging research into the use of game-based learning platforms such as Kahoot!, which examines the benefits and drawbacks of using such applications, it is difficult to ignore this type of technology. There are many reasons why using game-based learning technology is becoming more popular, but the main one is that students nowadays have been introduced to technology, such as online games, from a young age and have constant access to a personal mobile phone. In 2020 technology was embraced for this study and was introduced to in-person classes as a way of engaging students; when delivery was moved online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kahoot! continued to be used in the virtual classroom. The study evaluates whether students benefit from using Kahoot! as an aid to their understanding of the subject and if they view it as a game or as a learning tool. The paper explores the views of three distinct groups of students’ use of Kahoot! in their learning environment: when used in an online-only teaching environment, in a blended teaching environment consisting of online and in-person delivery and for an in-person-only teaching environment.
    Keywords: online game-based learning, Kahoot! student engagement, COVID-19 online learning environment

Volume 1 Number 1

  • Editorial:
    Catherine Hyland, Publishing Editor
  • Research papers
    How to build the future of teaching and learning while growing from the changes and challenges of 2020–21
    Mary Ellen Wiltrout, Director of Online and Blended Learning Initiatives, Lecturer, Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    The challenges of the last two years that the COVID-19 pandemic directly caused or exacerbated will have long-lasting impacts on teaching and learning in higher education. The need now is to thoughtfully evaluate lessons learned and areas of growth to apply in the move forward instead of succumbing to the pressures to return to old systems. Will administrators, instructors and students choose productive and effective paths forward that will enhance learning for all? Or will they slide back into old norms out of comfort or fatigue? How do we extract positive changes from these events? There have been many conversations related to this reflection within higher education. This paper presents the early and hypothesised lasting impacts of the past two years’ events on teaching and learning organised across seven themes: course logistics, tools, activities and assessment for learning, student services and programmes, work culture, attitudes, and relationships. Each theme includes the relevant challenges, the short-term reactions and solutions and examples of continuing positive practices. The process to develop the future of teaching and learning in higher education requires reflection on the past two years and deliberate action to grow from the lessons learned to avoid the pullback to fully pre-pandemic practices.
    Keywords: higher education; assessment; blended learning; online learning; digital learning; COVID-19 pandemic

  • From dot.com to pandemic: Reflections on how universities respond
    Martin Rich, Associate Dean, Bayes Business School

    This paper reflects on the parallels between two periods of rapid change in the use of technology and their impact on online learning in higher education. One was the dot.com boom around 1999–2000, and the other the COVID-19 pandemic starting in 2020. Both created an imperative to introduce elements of online learning rapidly into existing universities, and to arrange rapid change within institutions where the existing structure and systems often made this sort of change difficult to achieve. Both required implementation of technological and pedagogic approaches which had evolved gradually over the preceding years. Both took place against a backdrop of recognition that it would be difficult to predict the context within which education would take place in the future. Both introduced unexpected, and in some cases unresolved, issues around students’ responses to a changed mode of delivery of education. There were, however, important differences, notably in the triggers for the two events and the extent to which students were familiar with the tools available to facilitate online education. The paper is based on the personal experiences of the author, who was active in both periods, which are used to generate some principles and observations relating to planning online learning during periods of considerable uncertainty
    Keywords: pandemic; dot.com boom; online learning; change management; decision making

  • Practice papers
    From small acorns: Using a creative metaphor in postgraduate course design
    Jane Neal-Smith, Director of Academic Operations and Nathan Page, Educational Adviser, University of York

    The acceleration of online education especially during the COVID-19 pandemic has been well documented, and many educational institutions prepared online materials for their learners with great success. Existing fully online programmes, however, continued to operate and be developed as a matter of course. To expand the online Master’s portfolio at the University of York, a new Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme was proposed. The use of a visual metaphor in teaching is not uncommon; however, the metaphor of a tree allows a path to be traced from the roots/key themes to the fruit/key skills. The metaphor works as a template or map showing how programme learning outcomes are linked to module learning outcomes. The tree metaphor also has transferable applications such as embedding employability or decolonising the curriculum. Using the tree as a template enables future-proofing of the course’s integrity, because revisions can be embedded and linked at an ideas stage rather than in a more ad hoc manner. Examining the underpinning concepts which were derived from the University’s strategy, this paper explores the influences on the MBA’s programme design and how the inspiration and subsequent adoption of a metaphorical tree facilitated the construction of a relevant, creative and coherent programme.
    Keywords: creativity; metaphor; programme design; MBA; visual metaphor; online course; online learning

  • The principle of least disruptive online course design: Balancing innovation, pedagogy and student learning
    Brad Garner, Digital Learning Scholar in Residence and Tiffany Snyder, Director of Faculty Enrichment, Indiana Wesleyan University

    Amid the highly competitive world of higher education, colleges and universities continue to search for bright shiny objects that can be leveraged to set themselves apart from the pack and attract and enroll new students. Most recently, this quest has focused on the use of digital technology. That can be interpreted as both good news and bad news. The good news is realised when colleges and universities discover new ways to enhance retention and graduation rates. It becomes bad news, however, when the glitz and glamour of a new digital tool are perceived as more critical than impacts on student learning. The Principle of Least Disruptive Online Course Design provides a template for faculty and course designers as they plan to use new technology in online courses. The inclusion of new and different technologies in course design, although well-intentioned, can adversely affect student learning if not accompanied by opportunities and resources that: 1) validate the appropriateness of digital tools and their purpose; 2) promote faculty-use competency; 3) promote student-use competency; 4) provide guided application; and 5) allot ample time and resources for learning and engagement.
    Keywords: course design; innovation; digital disruption; transliteracies; learning

  • Research paper
    Supporting neurodiversity using mainstream mobile technologies: A proposed fourth-generation model
    Simon Hayhoe, Reader in Education, University of Bath

    This paper takes a philosophical approach to examining the use of mobile technologies to support Students Who Are Neurodiverse (SWANs). The paper is relevant as it addresses issues of social justice for students with disabilities and special needs. Methodologically, the paper uses the epistemological model of disability and a framework of active and passive exclusion to critically examine the nature of neurodiversity, the history of the development of accessible, assistive and inclusive technologies for SWANs and the management strategies of supporting SWANs using different forms of technology in different learning contexts. The focus of this analysis is an examination of mainstream mobile technologies and apps, and the support of people with disabilities. The study is framed by two research questions: 1) How has technology attempted to support SWANs based on their individual learning needs? and 2) Has the process of developing technologies for SWANs led to an efficient process of inclusion? The paper finishes by proposing a new model of technology usage and practice termed the Culture, Individuality, Multi-modality and Portability (CIMPo) model, which it suggests represents a fourth generation of accessible and inclusive technology and a second generation of inclusion. The key conclusion from this paper is that neurodiversity is often overlooked in education and that the culture of support using technology is burdened by its history of exclusion; however, systematised management strategies using mainstream technologies can often address many historical issues and the hurdles presented during teaching and learning.
    Keywords: neurodiversity; dyslexia; mobile computing; mobile devices; m-learning; inclusion; accessible technology

  • Case studies
    Design matters: How a course review informed online teaching best practices
    Laura A. Sheets, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Maureen Barry, Reference and Instruction Librarian and Eileen K. Bosch, Associate Dean of University Libraries, Bowling Green State University

    This paper discusses how an Applying the Quality Matters (QM) Rubric for Higher Education workshop had an impact on the online teaching practice of three academic librarians. The QM Rubric was used to review and update a credit-bearing information literacy course taught by the authors’ department. The authors reflect on how this training influenced their relationship to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic (and beyond), using examples from their own experiences to demonstrate how instruction librarians contributed to online education during this period and how they used sustainable teaching practices to lessen the workloads of their teaching colleagues. Future steps include improved documentation, assessment, management and maintenance of digital learning objects used in online teaching.
    Keywords: instructional design; learning management systems; libraries; evaluation of online environments

  • Examining learning experience using a storytelling case: A best practice case study
    Julia Cronin-Gilmore, Professor, Bellevue University

    Traditional marketing case analysis involves students reading from a textbook and writing an analysis paper, which consists of a summary of the present situation, root problem(s), presenting alternatives, evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and creating strategy recommendation(s). The idea of having students study case analysis in an alternative format was considered. A small, locally owned, upscale restaurant was chosen as the subject of a new case to be studied in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) marketing strategy course. Rather than having it presented in a written format, electronic storytelling was selected as the means for presenting the case. Approximately 250 students completed the case in an online course over a one-year period. The students completed an online survey after submitting case analysis papers. Survey data revealed that 92 per cent of the population thought storytelling was interesting, 78 per cent indicated that it improved their learning experience, and 79 per cent indicated that they would like more storytelling cases in the MBA strategy course.
    Keywords: case analysis; storytelling case; MBA curriculum; marketing case

  • Research paper
    Teachers’ digital competences as a key factor for the digital transformation of education
    Sandra Kučina Softić, Assistant Director, University of Zagreb University Computing Centre (SRCE)

    Many factors influence teachers’ attitude toward using information and communications technology (ICT) and e-learning and their implantation in the educational process. Teachers are reluctant to embrace new things if they are not acquainted with them or do not have complete information. Those who have some knowledge and experience in the application of ICT and e-learning are more open to their integration. The COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected, and no one was prepared for it, especially those teachers who did not use ICT and e-learning. In a short period of time teachers had to embrace digital technologies in order to ensure continuation of educational processes. In surveys carried out during the pandemic, teachers find that their digital competences have increased based largely on the use of ICT and e-learning technologies. Two years after the start of the pandemic, surveys are showing that teachers have good knowledge of e-learning applications in the educational process, but they need professional development in the use of ICT and e-learning more than in digital pedagogies. Yet, their use of ICT and e-learning technologies during the pandemic is predominantly in videoconferencing tools to ensure the continuation of live lectures, and in the use of learning management systems (LMS) for dissemination of information about the course, learning materials and communication. Research results indicate that there are no significant changes in the use of LMS since before the pandemic. Experience gained during the pandemic is not in online education, but mostly in emergency remote teaching whereby teachers used basic technologies in order to ensure the continuation of educational processes. It can be concluded that lack of digital competence influences teachers’ readiness for use of digital technologies and their perception of the possibilities and benefits digital technologies can bring to education. It can also explain why teachers are going back to classroom teaching or an online/classroom hybrid as an addition to teaching and learning. Teachers’ digital confluence can significantly influence the process of digital transformation of education, as competent teachers will be able to provide high-quality education. It has become evident that digital technologies are unavoidable in the educational process and their implementation is important for enhancing its quality. Accordingly, teachers’ continuing professional development must become an integral part of their career, not just an opportunity for those who are interested.
    Keywords: teachers’ digital competences; higher education; digital transformation; ICT; e-learning; continuous professional development; digital transformation

  • Case study
    Lessons learnt: Digital transformation of processes led to a rethinking of how certificates of completion are issued
    Helen Williamsdóttir Gray, Development Manager and Sigurður Fjalar Jónsson, Marketing Manager, IÐAN fræðslusetur

    Digital transformation of processes and services is affecting business and everyday life. This paper describes a small training centre in Iceland that has in recent years been involved in this transformation following discussions and actions in connection with Industry 4.0. As a result of the urgency for digital transformation of services due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a disruption in services emerged. Collecting information about the digital transformation of educational services led to new knowledge on the phenomenon of issuing credentials/certificates for learners. Issues of security and accessibility as well as potential ways for learners to share verifiable credentials resulted in the investigation, creation, testing and issuing of digital credentials to learners upon the completion of courses at IDAN Education Centre. This journey has highlighted the potential of digital credentials, but at the same time revealed weaknesses that have compelled the authors to face up to challenges, address problems and act. The human factor has been, and continues to be, the most challenging factor in issuing digital credentials. Our organisation stalled in their implementation due to lack of resources, clarity and commitment. Looking ahead, management still believes that digital credentials are of immense value for learners, companies and educators. IDAN is regrouping and reorganising for the next phase of digital transformation of services.
    Keywords: digital transformation; digital credentials; culture; security and the human factor