On-line Learning Focus Groups п‚§ 497 currently enrolled Hope students have taken on-line courses at Hope п‚§ Focus groups included 16 students: distribution of majors across NS, SS, AH п‚§ Focus group participants had taken a total of 20 courses online at Hope (courses taken were in NS and AH, none in SS) п‚§ All online courses were taken to meet a requirement Why do students take on-line courses? Participants reported reasons that are equally valid for all summer course offerings. The only unique factor was the ability to be offcampus and to schedule coursework around summer jobs. п‚§ Scheduling & Flexibility: вЂ“ Complete degree in 4 years вЂ“ Condensed time commitment (4 weeks instead of 16) п‚§ Focus: вЂ“ Take one course at a time вЂ“ Increased focus may increase GPA п‚§ Gen Ed Courses: вЂ“ Difficulty prioritizing Gen Ed during academic year due to demands of major вЂ“ Difficulty scheduling Gen Ed during academic year due to constraints of major On-line Learning п‚§ What Kind of Course Works Best? вЂ“ Non-major вЂ“ General Education вЂ“ Discrete content: ReadWrite-Take Test вЂ“ Writing courses: Have time to develop inspiration and think about assignments and feedback п‚§ What Kind of Student Learner Does Best? вЂ“ Self-motivated, selfeducating, self-disciplined вЂ“ Visual Learners* and Kinetic Learners report more difficulty learning on-line * This seems to reflect lack of full-use of visual technology in many online courses; visual learners also seek immediacy in learning environment (seeing professor, watching professor or other students) Valued Learning Experiences Reported by Participants Ways in Which Valued Learning Experiences Were Compromised for Some in On-Line Courses п‚§ COMMUNITY of LEARNERS п‚§ PROFESSOR-STUDENT INTERACTION п‚§ DEEP LEARNING AND ENGAGED LEARNING п‚§ DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES [prompted by focus group facilitator, not generated by participants] п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ PROFESSORSвЂ™ EXPLANATIONS & FEEDBACK п‚§ CAMPUS п‚§ п‚§ п‚§ Isolating No feedback from peers No interdisciplinary discussion Miss exchange of ideas Miss verbal expression of ideas Want to know professor (personally) Want to be known by professors (personally) Reported working more in courses when they know professor and professor knows them More difficult to retain knowledge Little or no analytical learning No reports of collaborative learning Little interaction among peers вЂ“ no presentations, discussions, or collaborative projects No attention to diversity or even alternative perspectives to course content reported by participants even after prompting with examples of broad interpretation of alternative perspectives to theories or ways of thinking] Some report lack of ability to ask questions of professors Miss seeing and hearing professorsвЂ™ explanations Some report lack of feedback from professors Accessibility of Resources: software, equipment, library resources, multicultural community, theatre/arts presentations necessary for coursework may not be available at вЂ�camp in the woodsвЂ™ or small hometown ParticipantsвЂ™ Suggestions to Improve On-Line Learning at Hope 1. Make it Personal п‚§ Meet classmates prior to course п‚§ Meet professor in person prior to course: Email & chat interaction can feel awkward if donвЂ™t have relationship п‚§ Share personal stories and experiences 2. Make it Visual п‚§ Video lecture playback: Slide and audio lectures difficult to stay focused п‚§ Video chat instead of text chat or posting - Utilize Skype and webcams п‚§ Utilize online video content (YouTube), animation and images 3. Make it Interactive п‚§ Provide synchronous classes so can see and interact with peers and professor п‚§ Let us see and hear peersвЂ™ questions п‚§ Use video conferencing to create a real exchange of ideas (as opposed to on-line posts which are discrete statements and donвЂ™t encourage utilizing others to construct new knowledge and understandings) 4. Utilize Technology Wisely п‚§ Over-reliance on PowerPoint presentations is not conducive to focused attention or learning п‚§ Moodle discussion forums are tedious and content of postings is of low quality п‚§ Trying to engage us via Facebook and Twitter means we can never escape from class п‚§ Glitches in delivery of audio or visual content is frustrating Conclusions п‚§ Good teaching is good teaching. It can occur on-line or face-to-face. п‚§ Many suggestions for making on-line learning more effective would also apply to traditional courses. п‚§ Students value the personal on-campus learning communities that contribute to deep learning at Hope College п‚§ There are specific and relatively easy things we can do to improve on-line courses by вЂ�blendingвЂ™ the personal with the technology. п‚§ Students were satisfied with their online courses and were grateful for the availability of summer online courses at Hope.