As you read through this part of Weeks 13 and 14 bear the following questions in mind.
How do these students use technology in their studies?
- It’s real. It was the online labs.
- program proper CISCO equipment
- test what you were learning
- get actual real life work done even though it was still virtual.
- a proper CISCO router
- you get to take that away straight away and be able to program real routers.
- When reading from a book you’ve not got reassurance that you can do it.
Students could use this for a ‘dry run’ offline, before taking the online tests using NetLab, which was much appreciated, as this student’s comment makes clear:
- Packet Tracer … I’ve got a lot of respect for that – very, very good. Also I like the quick reference of it. You’re reading through something and you want to work out the output for something and you think, oh I’ll check on that and you can fire it up and within 15 seconds you’re logged on.
- Quizzes will ‘fix in your mind’.
- The best course I have done with the OU … because there is so much hands-on
- A good way forward as long as simulations are realistic such as Netlab
Why do this course?
Strategically – to sit the examination for the CCNA qualification.
‘I like the idea of this being a ‘hands-on’ technical industry qualification.
- encourage frequent practice,
- reflection on progress
- study using different media
- study using different perspectives.
ICT skills are an essential part of the curriculum but not the primary focus
She needs to complete an OU Social Work degree in order to become a registered Social Worker. She is sponsored by her employer and coping with a high workload – two OU courses studied concurrently, plus a job and home responsibilities.
The OU course includes ICT skills activities in all these areas and also skills development in information literacy.
Interviewer: Did you use any of your skills from work to do the exercises?
Student: Yes absolutely … I probably took some stuff from work to be able to do it and I took some stuff from the exercise in order to develop myself in work.
I’ve sort of had to learn a different method of doing things and had to go through it all step by step.
It’s something that will be really useful but at the moment is taking so much time for me to learn how to do it and that’s taken away from time I could be doing other stuff. 'Borrowing time from somewhere else’. Terry O’Sullivan. (2011)
She welcomes the fact that most of her course is available online and it increases the accessibility of it away from her home computer.
(People’s perceptions of how much they can fit in … on the one hand flexible learning allows you to fit it in around other things … but it might encourage some to do additional courses and so have even great pressure on their time. These choices are the students’.)
This student also reported that she used ICT in her personal life, mainly for shopping and booking holidays.
I’ve learned how to do things like – what you call it – screen shots? I remember being really excited about that.
What insights are gained by looking at how students’ experience of technology-enhanced learning is affected by their work practices and vice versa?
Understand their wishes, favoured modus operandi, desire to put learning into practice immediately, desire for support, even acceptance that facts have to be learnt, tried out and put into practice until it becomes second nature.
The modules selected for this research project included two from Technology, two from Social Work, one from Business and one from Computing.
ICT is part of the personal, study and work experience of most students well before they enter a university. As you have seen, students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study.They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
Undoubtedly, peer contact, accessing module information and so on are essential for effective study. But you also need to look at how technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying.
Richardson’s (2005) account argues that students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module, and that, even when this variation in perception is taken into account, they vary also in their approaches to studying.
Six conceptions of learning were identified in these data, and Richardson argues that conceptions of learning are a key influence on approaches to studying, which in turn impacts on learning outcomes.
- 1 the increase of knowledge
- 2 memorising
- 3 the acquisition of facts or procedures
- 4 the abstraction of meaning
- 5 an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality.
- 6 a conscious process, fuelled by personal interests and directed at obtaining harmony and happiness or changing society.
As you read each vignette, look out for statements illustrating each of the six themes.
Pay attention to how ICT relates to work experience and vice versa, how (if at all) applying learning to work influences the study process, and so on.
What do these vignettes suggest about the importance of the student’s work when designing modules where ICT plays a key role?
Choice to enable them to fit it around their lives.
Bite-size, in terms of easily isolated activities that can be fitted into a tight period of time … or strung together when a longer study period is possible.
Variety of ways in to accommodate, to some degree, the experiences (or lack of) that they bring with them from their working lives, experience of studying and from home.
As Richardson’s (2005) says students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module.
Technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying … but are just as readily applied in our daily lives i.e. the boundaries between skills used for work and at home, particularly if computers are used in both locations.
Just because you provide a tool, or put in an activity, or offer additional reading, does not mean students will use them. ‘Students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study. They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).