Conference poster: How do ‘WP’ students differ from others in their engagement with e-learning activities?

Tomorrow evening I’ll be presenting a poster with Rita Tingle at the OU’s Widening Participation Conference. In it we look at evidence from a student survey (n=120) and weblogs of student access to our VLE (n=650,000) for possible differences in use of online course components by Widening Participation (WP) and young students. Click here to view the Poster (PDF 97k)

From the weblogs and survey we identify a gradual fall in use over the course despite the fact that the end of course surveys show no major issues with the technology (and indeed students apparently appreciated much of it). We find that, whilst there is little difference between WP students and other students, students under 25 used online quizzes and optional podcasts less than other students – the graph below is one of six on the poster (the labels ’09B’ and ’08J’ indicate the year in which the course was presented).

We also find from the survey that daily use of a computer for study is highest for 35-46 year olds and use for leisure highest for 25-35 year olds. This is apparently at odds with the discourse (/myth) that ‘Net’ Generation students are more likely to use such technologies and suggests potential for a larger study.

This data represents only part of our broader investigation which covers students’ initial reaction to online components such as course website, study planner, forums, podcasts, videos, quizzes, etc., how their use of them changed, reasons for skipping activities, use of computers and study preferences and practices. Together this may help explain why use falls and for differences such as those we find in this poster. We also aim to ask it there are trends in relation to student educational qualifications and completion/pass rates that are also evidenced in relation to engagement with online course resources.