eLearning and equal opportunities
Nicholas Kent (BIOSI), Haley Gomez (PHYSX), Niklaas Buurma (CHEMY), Simon Pope (CHEMY), Robert Hughes (PSYCH)
The e-learning and equal opportunities project investigated how students use Blackboard as a VLE using a student-focussed approach. To this end, a questionnaire was designed to enable expression of the learner voices of students at Cardiff University in combination with rigorous statistical analysis of student-reported Blackboard usage. Our initial aim was to investigate our working hypothesis that we may be discriminating against particular groups of students by the increased use of Blackboard as a teaching tool. Our survey of 288 students across several Schools and varies levels suggests that access issues are not affecting Blackboard use with 92% of respondents having access to their own PC. Respondents generally supplement the use of their own PC with University provision. The typical Blackboard logon frequency was 4 times per week with most respondents using Blackboard to access documents, announcements and gradebook. Our study suggests that students access Blackboard as a passive ‘information-provider’ rather than a learning environment per se. However, it was felt that this is at least partly the result of the typical services offered through Blackboard by teaching staff.
We would encourage staff to continue to post material and announcements onto Blackboard as these are received positively by students. We also encourage staff to use Blackboard more dynamically, including using a wider range of activities, using different media (e.g. videos, podcasts etc) and discussion fora.With respect to our initial hypothesis, we find no evidence for discrimination. Indeed our results suggest that those students who may have traditionally been perceived to be potentially the most disadvantaged by the increased use of e-learning (female, mature, non-UK) are accessing Blackboard more frequently than their peers, possibly suggesting that these students value this resource.
Contact:Niklaas Buurma Buurma@cardiff.ac.uk