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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - Students Perceptions of Web-Based Design

This entry from the AECT BlogTrack is the sixth and final entry from the month of June, the sixth in the series where I described the research work that I have done to date in virtual schooling, and the forteenth overall in the re-posts from this series.

This study was a follow-up to the teachers and designers perceptions of web-based design study that had been conducted the previous year (see Teachers and Designers Perceptions of Web-Based Design). Like the previous study, this is one that I have yet to publish on - although I do have a fairly good findings section created so I hope to build around that over the summer and get something out the door by or early into the Fall semester.

This study involved interviews and focus groups with six students from rural schools. The interviews were conducted via telephone during May 2005 and the focus group was conducted in June 2005 using the Elluminate Live software. Like the previous study, the goal for this study was to determine characteristics of an effectively designed web-based course perceived to be important by these secondary students.

Based upon an analysis of the interview transcripts, students initially indicated that they don’t use the web-based content that much. However, when I began to discuss each of the individual components of the template it did come out that they did use the content more than they initially let on. It should be noted that this level of usage was still not as high as the CDLI wanted, or even as high as was believed by the teachers and course designers that had been interviewed a year earlier. One of the barriers to using the web-based content is the amount of work assigned during offline time. Students simply reported having to complete too much seat work to spend more time using the web-based content. Other barriers included how little the e-teachers actually used it and the fact that students did not necessarily trust that the content was accurate.

When the students were discussing web-based design they confirmed many of the perceptions that had been exposed by the teachers and course developers in the earlier study. For example, the students indicated that they didn’t like text and preferred multimedia be used to explain concepts and provide information. The students also indicated that they wanted to have a good set of notes. Contrary to the belief by teachers and course developer’s that the students simply clicked on random radio buttons and hit “submit” when completing the “Test Yourself” quiz feature, students actually expressed that they found the review questions quite useful. One point that was consistently raised by the students that wasn’t a theme in the earlier study was that while students enjoyed the various media that the Internet was able to offer, in many instances they were unable to access it outside of school – limiting their ability to use the web-based course materials at home.

There were many other trends (e.g., dealing with institutional and school-based tutoring, challenges students experienced, expanding learning communities, the use of the synchronous content, the nature of their online learning) that were generated from these interviews, but were not germane to the research questions for this particular study which may prove valuable in future research projects.

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