Category Archives: elearning

All things to do with elearning.

WIP Presenation 12th of May 2014

This video captures my Work In Progress Presentation I gave before my course supervisors and classmates. We had some great presentations from over the course of the two weeks and I learned a great deal about what I needed to do. The most important of these is the technology discovery element that I had been neglecting. It has been my experience that there are a great many online tools and resources that can initially seem interesting or novel but soon become just that, a novelty. An example would be Prezi which I find does not do much to improve a poor presentation. Another example is Voki avaters. To me they seem intrusive and tacky. Most web users today would regard the automated speech of the Voki as gimmicky and intrusive.

I think it is easy to develop a preoccupation with searching for the newest or most entertaining online tool when that energy could be better spent on making the elearing tools already at your disposal more effective. This is often the more laborious job and lacks the appeal and fun of discovering a new plug-in but simply being aware of the larger trends in online learning and making sure you can work with most types of online multimedia tools can be just as important.

So I am going to evaluate a range of elearning technologies that I have found to be useful and some that I find less than useful. I am currently working on a project implementing synchronous webinars using Adobe Connect and will evaluate that in the coming weeks.


The Importance of Connectedness for Young People

This report looks into how much time and energy young people are spending online. In 2009 it reports that children and young people spent an average of 2 hours and 17 minutes on a computer daily. With the advent of mobile smartphones and tablets this statistic may have changed since 2009 with more casual and mobile connectivity.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 13.26.32



OECD (2012), "How relevant nnectedness is for young people
in Connected Minds: Technology and Today's Learners, OECD
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Look Up Video

I’m not one usually given to supporting viral videos but this one is particularly well executed and does strike a chord with me personally and professionally. I spend a great deal of time online whether it be on my phone or laptop. Social websites such as twitter, Facebook and Reddit have provided me with so much scattershot and random information that I now find deliberate focus on one thing quite a challenge.
Professionally I am part of a change in the lives in children that requires them to spend time online. We do not ask that our students interact face -to-face with teachers and mentors or fellow students but tell that interacting with them through a instant messages is adequate. This level of socialisation with one’s teachers and peers is very different to the one I would have experienced as a young student. In the case of the students I work with they were not in receipt of any teacher or classmate contact as they had left school and online contact though limited is better than none at all. Social Presence theory espouses that social contact is an important part of any whole and effective learning environment.

My research project investigates the importance of this social aspect to learning and how advances in social networking sites can be employed to provide that social aspect to students undertaking an online learning course.

Connected Learning: Unlocking the Potential of Every Child

One of the great benefits of eLearning is that  it allows people to circumnavigate barriers to knowledge. These barriers may be geographical, physical, health related and socio-economic.

The classroom may also be in itself a barrier to capturing out of school learning. Informal “not-school” learning or learning that takes place outside of traditional school environments yet can have a powerful affect on a child’s development and can support academic success. There is often a socio-economic divide here with better of parents able to spend more on after school activities for their children to expose them to enriching experiences.

Research into how children experience life online during and after school is being undertaken by the Connected Learning Research Network under the Digital Edge project to try and capture what other ways learning in a child’s life can be captured and evidenced.


WIP 26.11.2013

Research topic: Can Facebook help engage young people in online learning?

Research questions

  1. Is there a link between student interaction in a Facebook group and time spent on Moodle?
  2. Is there a link between student interaction in a Facebook group and academic achievement?
  3. Is there a link between student interaction in a Facebook group and student satisfaction with the iScoil?
  4. Is there a link between student interaction in a Facebook group and  student retention?


Why is this important?

It is the weakest factor in iScoil’s teaching model and one that could result in a very positive outcomes in terms of student accreditation and student retention.

Why not use Moodle?

Short bit of iScoil history.

Notschool Ireland -> iScoil

Firstclass -> Moodle

There have been efforts to engage students through student forums, online chats, group projects and face to face workshops, but there has been little success.

Moodle does not provide the intuitive and highly interactive space that other social network sites do.

In the past we have focused resources into changing Moodle to more closely resemble Facebook but with no noticeable success.

Organisational lock-in has resulted in a situation where changing the course layout and student enrollments to facilitate student interaction is very difficult.

Ethical considerations had made using Facebook an unpopular move amongst management but it was eventually deemed worthy of investigation. I took this opportunity to use this as a research project in my MSc studies.

Why Facebook?

In a recent student survey, 90% of student said they mainly use Facebook!

It provides closed groups which satisfy ethical considerations and the students have a safe space to communicate and provide a lot of functionality.

It is a neutral space unlike our VLE which is managed by iScoil so more negotiation between instructor and student on how it is used.

It’s free and easy to use.

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 16.13.35

Project Plan

Offer students membership to closed Facebook group.

Provide students with a short online survey asking them:

  1. Do you interact with other iScoil students online? Yes / No
  2. If yes how often? Daily, weekly, monthly
  3. Do you use iScoil to interact or some other website?
  4. Do you think it is easy to contact other students on iScoil? Yes / NoScreen shot 2013-11-26 at 14.53.02

This will be hosted on Surveymonkey.

As group moderator I will try to promote student interaction based on student interests  using action research methodology and create a safe space where students can interact with each other.

On completion of study, provide students with exit survey asking the same questions as initial questionnaire.

Collect data and write up resulting paper.

Ethics Considerations

All students are under 18 and can be classified as vulnerable. I am awaiting feedback from the Ethics Commitee.

Target Journal

My target journal for submission is Interactive Learning Environments
Requires 2,000 and 6,000 words.

Individual learning

  • Innovative learning situations, including adaptive systems, intelligent tutoring, conversational and advisory systems
  • Tools to aid learning and tools for studying and modelling learners
  • Cognitive, social, developmental and motivational aspects of how learning comes about
  • Principles of course design for effective learning, authoring tools
  • Self-organised learning and learning to learn

Group Activity

  • Informal knowledge exchange networks
  • Participation in on-line discussion
  • Computer supported teamwork projects
  • Collaborative learning processes
  • Peer tutoring and mentoring in computer mediated learning
  • Self assessment and peer assessment in virtual classrooms
  • Interactive video and audio technologies

Social and organisational issues

  • Facilitating and managing organisational change
  • Integrating e-learning with other business processes
  • The interface between e-learning and knowledge management


In the context of student learning, Astin (1984) defined engagement as “the amount of

physical and psychological energy that the students devote to the academic experience”
(p. 297). Today, engagement refers to the amount of time and effort that students spend
on educational activities that are related to college academic work (Kuh, 2009).
Chickering and Gamson (1987) offer 7 principles for improving undergraduate education
based on research on exemplary teaching and learning in colleges and universities. All of
these are related to student engagement, including:

  1.  encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2.  develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3.  encourages active learning,
  4.  provides prompt feedback,
  5.  emphasizes time on task,
  6.  communicates high expectations,
  7.  respects diverse talents and ways of learning (Washington Center News, 1987).A closed Facebook group made up of myself and other students can provide an environment where these conditions could be met.

    Cite:Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE January 2013 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 14 Number: 1 Article 26

  8. Wang, Jenny; Lin, Chun-Fu C.; Yu, Wei-Chieh W.; Wu, Emily
    Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, v14 n1 p302-322 Jan 2013

“We don’t Twitter, we Facebook”: An alternative pedagogical space that enables critical practices in relation to writing

This paper studies how Facebook closed-groups were used in a first year literacy course for students in a BEd Course in a University in South Africa. This mandatory course is designed to provide students with literacy skills they’ll need in their own studies and as teachers.

This study focused on the digital domain of literacy, one such domain covered by the literary course. There were two facets to this domain; a course blog where students had to use communicate formal academic language and a closed Facebook group where informal language, colloquialisms and other social identifiers would be used. Learning to negotiate meaning and develop relationships using informal languages was seen as an important skill for an educator.

Students were encouraged to use their own “txt-speech” and debate the validity of this form of language.

The design of the research is similar to my own in that the tutor will play a member of the group, acting as a moderator and providing a sense of safety for the other members. The author also addresses a concern about using a social media tool popular with students. The association with academic use might reduce it’s appeal. The author concludes that closed Facebook  groups provide “a way of networking with peer groups in spaces where it is safe enough to let your voice be heard.”

English Teaching: Practice and Critique, Jean Reid
May, 2011, Volume 10, Number 1, pp. 58-80

Hello newbie! **big welcome hugs** hope u like it here as much as i do!

This chapter looks at how communities of practice develop online. The author analyses online activity of two online communities and how they have both developed communities of practice as outlined by Wenger in Communities of practice : learning, meaning, and identity (1999). This chapter is older than most of my reading material but it does provide some interesting insights into community formation and how identity can be built through membership of a community. The example communities are an online wiccan group made up primarily of teenage girls and a group set up for young ME sufferers. Both groups have a “strong identity of who they are and who they are not”. The success of these communities may be a result of how the community negotiated these parameters.

If my Facebook group is to succeed in creating a genuine community the members of that group will have to negotiate what it is to be and how they are to interact with it. Providing them with this space will be my role as a supervisor but it will ultimately be decided by the students themselves.

Davies, J. `”Hello newbie! **big welcome hugs** hope u like it here as much as i do! ” An exploration of teenagers´ informal on-line learning´. In Buckingham, D. and Willett, R. (Eds.) Digital Generations. New York: Lawrence Ehrlbaum. (Pp 211 – 228)

Social Media for Teaching and Learning

A survey of social media use by faculty at third level institutions revealed that wikis and blogs are much more likely to be used for teaching than Facebook or Twitter. This may be in some way connected to the result of 48% of the third level faculty surveyed who felt that the the increase in digital communication between staff and students had led to an increase in stress and over 60% said that their work hours had increased. It could be that third level faculty prefer to use social media sites less popular with their students to reduce the amount of time they need to spend monitoring and responding to posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.,0