How do eLearning technologies affect students’ perception of support from their tutor?
Tutors have an increasing choice of digital communication technologies with which to support their students – for example, tutor group forums, on-line tutorials, social bookmarking, SMS messages, virtual worlds, podcasts and video casts – but little is known about the effect these technologies have on student perception of the support model. Does their use increase student satisfaction and feeling of community with their tutor and fellow students, or do students perceive them as an unwelcome distraction and an additional workload with little return?
This project will follow one tutor group of students studying T215 Communication and information technologies in 2011 as the tutor adopts an exclusively distance support model (no face-to-face tutorials). It will examine the level of student interaction using the eLearning support tools and their effect on student satisfaction. The key support tool will be Elluminate which the tutor will use to provide more frequent (though shorter) tutorial sessions and increased flexibility for support at critical points in the module than the traditional face-to-face model. The tutor will also use phone, SMS and the tutor group VLE forum.
The project’s investigation will be through analysis of records (tutor logs, forum messages, Elluminate recordings), a student survey and a focus group. During the progress of the project the experience will be shared with other T215 tutors through the VLE tutor forum. At the end of the project the findings will be disseminated through conference and journal papers.
This proposal was rejected: it is considered too narrow in that it “concentrates on a small cohort of students and is highly dependent on their response”. The eSTEeM Scrutiny Group do, however, agree that “this is an important area”. Nevertheless, I do intend to continue with this project outside the framework of eSTEeM.