Engagement of professional learners with the VLE: a case study from social care

Christine Davies and Lowri Harris

1University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP; Christine.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk

2University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP; L.M.Harris@uwtsd.ac.uk,

24th March 2016

Abstract

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) constitute an important resource for learners in Higher Education (HE), but data on the engagement of learners with VLEs is limited, particularly in the case of part-time, distance learners (Blaschke, 2012). Such data is important to help understand learner needs, particularly in the light of suggestions that student engagement with VLEs may be lower than anticipated by institutions (Hopkins, 2011).

This paper describes a case study of a large cohort of WIWBL of professionals who studied aspects of social care on a part-time, distance basis. A quantitative approach was taken to assess engagement with the Moodle VLE based on ‘page views’. 68% of enrolled students viewed one or more of the resources within the VLE ‘course’, and all resources present were viewed. The highest number of page-views was observed for resources such as ‘essential documents’ which are required for mandatory assessment tasks, whilst the lowest number of page-views appeared to be associated with procedural information and external web-links. Patterns of usage associated with demographic and achievement data are also discussed.

The paper considers rreasons for the trends in engagement which may be linked to the relatively high level of tutor contact and workplace support on this module (Leese, 2009). However, many part-time, distance learners do not have support of this type, and hence may display study behaviour which even more strategic than that of full-time students (Risquez et al, 2013). The needs of professional learners in relation effective use of VLEs and other appropriate technology is discussed, and recommendations are made for further study.

References

  • Blaschke, L.M. (2012) ‘Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning’. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13 (1), p.56-71.[online] Available at : http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076/2087 (Accessed 19.2.15)
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  • Leese, M. (2009) ‘Out of class—out of mind? The use of a virtual learning environment to encourage student engagement in out of class activitie’s. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40 (1), p.70–77.
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